Founded in 1996
IN THIS ISSUE
EATING AROUND BEND, OREGON
By John Mariani
NEW YORK CORNER
By John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
WILLAMETTE VALLEY WINES,
By John Mariani
By John Mariani
Flatbreads at Currents
Given its attraction as a place where most visitors spend more time outdoors than in, canoeing down the Deschutes River, climbing Pilot Butte, biking all over the region or just sitting around (legally) smoking dope, Bend is a city where you expect to find taverns, pizzerias, gastropubs, Mexican-American eateries and Thai storefronts, and you will. But you can also dine extremely well in this out-of-the-way Oregon city within the Cascade Mountain Range. Here are some places I really enjoyed when I was there this spring.
3075 US-97 BUS
Currents has a double meaning: Just outside, beneath the restaurant’s terrace, the Deschutes River rushes by at its own will, while inside Chef Michael Stanton follows currents in American cuisine with a menu on which even the most expected items, like a hamburger, are given his admirable local touch and spin.
Stanton, here just a year, is very fortunate in being able to draw on a deep cornucopia of Northwest provender and suppliers: Eberhard’s Dairy, High Desert Produce, Double R Ranch and Snake River Farms; the bread is from Big Ed’s Artisan Bread; the coffee from Stumptown Coffee; the charcuterie from Zoe’s Cured Meats. With such ingredients at hand, Stanton has to show respect to their producers, so his cooking is a reflection of the best of the Pacific Northwest.
The vast dining room is spacious, with high ceilings and the kind of timbers you expect in a lodge, with big, roomy booths set along the wall and shadowy light at night. Whenever it’s good weather, the terrace will be packed with people watching the Deschutes run through the property.
I had lunch and dinner at Currents, and so favorably was I impressed with the former that I wanted to order some of the same dishes at the latter, some on both menus. The array of offerings is impressive, but not unreasonably ambitious. So, the Margherita flatbread with heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella, parmesan basil pesto ($10) at lunch had all those elements melded into a fine, flakey crust. In a similar way the chorizo flatbread ($11) had the same virtues, with more mozzarella, peppers, parmesan and a drizzle of raw honey.
Snooty New Yorkers should be impressed by the Reuben sandwich at lunch ($15)—big enough for two people—made with very good, moist corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing on rye, served with excellent fries. But not to be missed is a signature item—a confit turkey wing with a sweet-sour ginger plum sauce ($10); daunting in its size and meatiness, this is the best turn on a county fair-like turkey dish imaginable. That goes for the burger, too, layered with Bibb lettuce, onion, tomato, cheese on a brioche bun with fries ($13). You can also get it with bacon and a fried egg, maybe for breakfast?
That night at
dinner it was all I could do to resist that turkey
wing again, but I was very happy with a roasted
half chicken ($23) generously
sided with bbq baked beans, crispy polenta and
baby kale. Oregon albacore tuna
($26) was a treat, with fingerling potatoes,
English peas, fava beans and a
smart shot of lemon aïoli and olive tapenade. Even better was stuffed
Oregon loin of rabbit ($26) with
herbed spaetzle, asparagus, shimeji mushrooms
the reduction of rabbit juices (left). A
ribeye from Double R Ranch ($47) was
fine, with a potato gratin, broccolini and
four-cheese butter peppercorn
item that definitely
needs a lot more work, or removal from the menu,
was a soupy pea risotto with
smoked pork belly (23) that was more like a side
dish of pea puree.
The very rich, creamy cheesecake
is actually a cheese course and a very fine idea
it is (right).
Open for breakfast Mon.-Fri.; brunch Sat. & Sun.; dinner nightly.
163 NW Minnesota Avenue
In Latin, bos is a cow and taurus is a bull, which produces a juveneus—cattle fit for the kind of beef served at this brand new, two-tiered steakhouse in downtown Bend. But the ancient Romans never had access to the Japanese or Australian wagyu-style meat served here, the former coming from the renowned Miyazaki A5 Prefecture, the latter from Broadleaf Farms in Queensland.
Regular readers of Virtual Gourmet will be well aware of my suspicions about the enormous amount of Japanese wagyu that now appears in restaurants throughout the U.S., much of it of questionable quality. But upon seeing a slab of Bos Taurus’s wagyu, I was impressed with the tremendous amount of marbling it had. At $29 per ounce with a two-ounce minimum, one has to decide if anything on a plate is worth that much money, but if you order an ounce or two out of curiosity, you will taste something out of the ordinary.
My preference is for USDA Prime grain-fed beef, which Bos Taurus also offers, from farms in Tolleson, Arizona, and Hotchkiss, Colorado. But much of Bos Taurus’s steaks are grass-fed, which means a tender but less fat-rich animal. I chose a 14-ounce, 50-day, dry-aged rib-eye that had plenty of flavor and succulence ($55). And Chef George Morris, last in Telluride, certainly knows how to impart a good char, on request, while keeping the interior rare or medium-rare. And his Bos Burger ($20) actually comes as two superlative four-ounce patties, lightly packed, with house-made American cheese, bread-and-butter pickles, lettuce and tomato.
As a side dish have the crusty patatas bravas potatoes. The pan-fried house-made ricotta gnocchi needed work, emerging as hard
little nubbins in a bland arrabiata sauce ($12).
It’s a handsome restaurant, owned by a number of investors from 10 Barrel Brewing, and occupies premises where a number of other restaurants failed. With only 41 seats, including a five-table loft, Currents provides both cooking and service that give very personalized attention, although the choice of a bunch of different steak knives with which to cut your meat is more than a little twee. Indeed, I haven’t seen that gimmickry since Alain Ducasse tried it at his namesake defunct NYC restaurant, where it was greeted with more than a few snickers.
There are four admirable desserts, including an elaborate buttermilk pie with a crème fraiche semifreddo “and multiple applications of pear, rosemary foam” ($12). I loved the housemade strawberry ice cream made at “the chef’s whim” ($9) and they even serve milk shakes ($10).
wine list is well selected, if not very long for a
steakhouse, but the Oregon bottlings are
particularly well represented.
1100 NW Newport Avenue
Most American towns have a place something like CHOW, but few American towns have places that are quite as good as CHOW.
Frankly, I only had a leisurely breakfast there, but what I ate and drank was top quality, from perfectly cooked eggs and pancakes—either buttermilk or pumpkin and ginger—of just the right thickness to the strong coffee, all served with a congeniality that warms your heart as soon as you sit down.
The owners, David Youvell and Ryan Sturmer, also run Good Karma Bakery, the Cottonwood Café and Local Slice. CHOW is open only for breakfast and lunch, and you know they make everything from scratch, from biscuits and gravy to cornmeal crusted tomatoes and granola Their corned beef hash is braised for 14 hours with caramelized onions and served with two eggs and “house taters.”
Somehow CHOW avoids being too cute for its own good. It almost seems that the old guy in the front yard with the big dog must have been hired for the job, and of course you can buy CHOW merchandise like mugs and t-shirts.
But it all seems to be the real McCoy, down to its brightly colored dining rooms, the windows without curtains and the seats with printed covers. Outside it looks like someone’s summer house, and there are bench tables and umbrellas, and pine trees all around. The "N" in the OPEN sign is off kilter.
It’s a tough place to
leave and an easy place to linger.
Open for breakfast and lunch only.
NEW YORK CORNER
By John Mariani
142 West 65th Street (off
Now eight years old, Lincoln Ristorante shares honors with nearby Marea and The Leopard at Des Artistes as being the finest Italian restaurants on the Upper West Side, and, by extension, in all of New York. Indeed, few restaurants anywhere in Manhattan have the posh, the gleam and the commitment to fine dining as do those three.
It would be ridiculous for Lincoln to be otherwise. Set on the plaza of Lincoln Center, next to the Henry Moore sculpture pool and across from Juilliard, its architecture had to fit in and to exemplify an esthetic radiance, which in this case is a glass-walled wedge designed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, with a grassy New York City-owned park on top of it all. (Photo by Jason Varney)
Inside, there is the same
devotion to fineness, evident in the leather
swivel chairs, the angled wooden
ceiling, a Negroni and Prosecco Bar and a
brightly lighted kitchen where Chef
Shea Gallante (below) has been in residence
for a little over a year. He
follows the original chef, Jonathan
Benno, and has not deviated from Lincoln’s alta
cucina style, based on regional
traditions and given the chef’s personal
Gallante has long experience in such a high style, having worked with restaurateur Pino Luongo, then at Felidia, as chef de cuisine at Bouley and CRU, then at his own place, Ciano, and most recently at Chevalier.
So, there will be crisp seasoned grissini and moist, olive oil-glossed focaccia to nibble on while you page through a first-rate all-Italian, 400-label wine list overseen by Irene Miller. If you’re interested in older vintages, you’ll find plenty therein dating back to the last century. Photo: Ghost Media
You may receive an amuse of lobster salad with summery heirloom tomatoes, white nectarine and a good dash of horseradish. Among the appetizers is a big eye tuna tartare with very sweet cherry tomatoes and horseradish aïoli ($27), and some of the finest, most tender scallops I’ve had this summer ($26), served as a salad with quinoa and wheatberries, grilled nectarine and smoky mostarda aïoli ($22).
These are the kind of Italian antipasti rare even in Italy, and the pastas compare just as favorably, all housemade, all cooked perfectly to the right textures. (Prices reflect whole portions as main courses.) Conchiglie shell macaroni comes with tender octopus and crisp guanciale bacon, a boost of Calabrian chili and toasted breadcrumbs ($37), and fat spaghettoni are glossed with a verdant pesto sauce and two cheeses, Parmigiano and fiore di sardo ($33). A very decadently rich pasta was a bowl of plump agnolotti stuffed with a blend of corn stock and sheep’s milk ricotta, and some garlic-aged balsamic swirled into a brown truffle butter—a dish that didn’t need the addition of bland Australian black truffles (especially at $42). Marvelously rendered saffron-scented acquarello risotto incorporated a generous catch of ruby shrimp, delicate peekytoe crab and a light, very tasty tomato-shellfish reduction ($35).
I was very happy to see culurzones, a Sardinian ravioli (left), on the menu; they were stuffed with whipped burrata cheese, baby spinach, onions and Parmigiano, with a simple sauce of Sungold tomatoes, garlic and basil ($34).
Bravo for the wild roasted king salmon ($38) served with a warm tomato salad, asparagus and watercress-pine nut pesto, and kudos for the generous veal tenderloin with fregola sarda, vegetables and a rich Marsala veal jus ($52). It has become obvious at this point that New York butchers obtain even better veal than do the macellerias of Rome or Florence.
Special that evening were double Colorado lamb chops with an absolutely delicious lamb sausage blended with sharp pecorino in a ragù of shelled beans, broccoli di rabe, shallot confit and lamb jus. ($44). These are fairly involved preparations for Italian secondi, but they shows how just a little more can make a good deal of difference when using complementary flavors.
Richard Capizzi’s beautiful confections rank with the best Italian desserts in the city, never overwrought, so that the fruit and frangipane crostata is always buttery and crisp, with a blueberry marmellata and lemon-fior di latte gelato ($16); the pistachio semifreddo is a marvel of airy lightness and satiny texture, splashed with Genovese grappa and served with orange blossom mascarpone and Morello cherries ($16). An exceptional warm chocolate tart (left) uses Eureka Guittard chocolate from California to be made into a creamy ganache and sided with espresso gelato ($16).
There are a $78 fixed price, three-course menu and an $84 four-course menu, as well as à la carte. Until August 17 during Restaurant Week in New York, there is a two-course $26 menu, with three courses for $34.
by Evan Sung
by Evan Sung
Lincoln Ristorante is open daily for lunch and dinner.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
WILLAMETTE VALLEY WINES
By John Mariani
One of the principal attractions of valleys is that they tend to be restfully quiet, with only the elements of wind and rain to animate the atmosphere. And, aside from the sounds of traffic, the Willamette Valley of Oregon is as rich in rural sights as the valleys of the Loire, Rhine and Douro.
From Eugene, I-15 winds north, and after you hit Salem the Willamette’s flatlands are bound by vineyards that rise into McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton, Ribbon Ridge, the Dundee Hills and the Chehalem Mountains. The whole stretch up to Portland is only 150 miles, a region with a Mediterranean climate rich in indigenous trees and plants—grand firs, incense cypress, red alder and shore pine. The shrubs have names like snowbrush, oceanspray and hairy manzanita, with wildflowers called showy milkwood, fireweed and Pacific bleeding heart. The air is sweet with all of them, as well as the grapes growing on the vines in spring and summer.
One of the loveliest places to stay in the Valley is The Allison Inn (left and below), spread over 35 acres in Newberg, nestled into estate vineyards and in full view of the snow-capped mountains. More than 500 works of art dot the landscape, 100 by local artists, and the Inn is known for the excellence of its state-of-the-art spa. The resort has 77 guest rooms and eight suites, including a penthouse. The Jory restaurant on premises is very fine and its wine list exemplifies the breadth and depth of the Valley’s viticulture.
Over dinner there
I had a chance to try the wines
Vineyards in the McMinnville AVA (below) with Robert and Ellen
Brittan, who in 2005 took a bold
move to improve their vineyards:
“After dropping all of the crop in 2005 to
allow the vines to get better
Andrea Johnson) established,
the first two Pinot Noirs from the mature vines on
came from the 2006 vintage, a total of 720 cases.”
They now produce four high
quality Pinot Noirs (and a Chardonnay), each with
a substantial heft, acid and
complexity, but without the overripe fruitiness of
Pinots from hotter climates
and lesser clones.
I also had the occasion to visit Domaine Serene (below) in Dayton, which is duly proud of its magnificent estate center, which now includes a new Clubhouse, where I had one of the finest meals I’ve ever enjoyed on the West Coast.
So many wineries in the West begin as dreams, many requiring the investment of fortunes in order to make a reasonable return. But the psychic rewards have been many for Minnesotans Grace and Ken Evenstad, who in 1989 invested in a 42-acre hilltop estate in the beautiful Dundee Hills. What they built was at the time a clear departure from the simple farmhouse style of Oregon wineries, for their dream was to create something along the lines and on the scale of the finest and most lavish Napa Valley estates.
They named the winery after their daughter, Serene, and their first vineyard after their son, Mark Bradford Evenstad, now with six individual vineyard estates, planted exclusively with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay according to their micro-terroirs. In 2001, their five-level, gravity flow Pinot Noir winery was opened, and just this spring they completed a new white winery dedicated to the production of Chardonnay and sparkling wine. (As if that were not enough to accomplish, they also purchased Château de la Crée, a Burgundy wine estate in the Côte d’Or.)
The estate’s Clubhouse
accepts memberships that
guarantee annual access to their finest wines,
although the tasting rooms and
dining rooms are in fact open to the public. You
can book The 45th Parallel
Experience within an extraordinary, beautifully
lighted wine cave (right) for up to
twelve guests with a menu by Chef Jason Kupper. The price is $125 for the
public and $75 for Club Members
and features an amazing four-course meal matched
to some of the best wines in
Domaine Serene’s portfolio, including from its
Andy Katz Photography
Kupper wears his résumé well, with stints at Napa Valley’s Bouchon, Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, and Charlie Palmer Steakhouse in Las Vegas before opening his own place, Heritage Eats of Napa. All of that experience goes into menus that reflect great technique, admirable finesse and thorough appreciation of the provender of the region.
Thus, a first course of grilled Hama Hama oyster with charred ramp butter, pickled kumquat, fava beans and slicked with lardo was accompanied by a 2015 Maison Evenstad Santenay Chardonnay and a 2015 Chardonnay from the Côte Sud vineyard in the Dundee Hills. Next was a roulade of rabbit with golden beet rice balls, fiddlehead ferns, prosciutto cream and stinging nettle oil, with a 2015 Meursault and a 2015 Étoile Vineyard Chardonnay.
Alaskan halibut was accompanied by shaved radish, peas, white cannellini beans, bacon and Marcona almond crumble, with yuzu gel and Iberian jamon, with a 2015 Beaune and 2015 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. There were, to my mind, too many elements added to the fish—though halibut needs help—but it was a not unexpected pleasure to taste how it all came together with the Pinot Noirs.
Anderson Ranch lamb with rhubarb, shiitake mushrooms, rainbow Swiss chard with carrot miso butter went very nicely with a 2015 Volnay Prémier Cru Clos des Angles and a 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir Willamette Valley.
It must be noted that, by the bottle, these wines poured cost between $75 and $100, so the all-inclusive price of $125 is nothing short of a steal.
It is also a unique way to appreciate the wines of the Willamette Valley side by side with their counterparts in Burgundy.
“The seafood-and-okra gumbo, its rich, dark roux infused with the distinct mineral tang of the blue-crab shell that lurks in each bowl, is pure New Orleans, a dome of steamed rice clearing the stew’s surface like a volcano in the ocean, sinking slowly as you eat.”—Hannah Goldfield, "Lowerline,” The New Yorker (7/9/18)
Bakker, a beer educator at Anheuser Busch,
declaimed on what beers are best for which zodiac signs,
Bakker, a beer educator at Anheuser Busch,
declaimed on what beers are best for which zodiac signs,
"Geminis are social butterflies. They’re eager to learn and adaptable, and they love to bounce ideas back and forth. These Chatty Cathys are the life of every gathering, which is why Bakker says hard seltzer is the perfect choice for them. It’s light, refreshing, and comes in a plethora of different flavors to satisfy Gemini’s curious palate."
"Virgos are clean and loyal, but can also be analytical perfectionists who believe in doing things right down to the very last detail. A Munich helles has an ideal balance of malty sweetness and hop bitterness. Bakker says this trendy German-style beer is humble in flavor but proud in brewing perfection."
Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners
Wine is a joy year-round but
in cooler weather one
grape varietal has really taken center stage in
my daily activities – that most Italian of
grapes, Sangiovese, and its ultimate expression
– Brunello di Montalcino.
Recommendations for Celebrating Sangiovese
BelnerO Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese – A refined cuvée of noble red grapes perfected by our pioneering clonal research. This dark beauty, BelnerO, is produced at our innovative winery, chosen 11 consecutive years as Italy’s Premier Vineyard Estate. Fermented in our patented temperature controlled French oak and aged approximately 2 additional years. Unfiltered, and Nitrogen bottled to minimize sulfites.
Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino – Rich, round, velvety and intensely aromatic, with flavor hints of licorice, cherry, and spices. Brunello di Montalcino possesses an intense ruby-red color, and a depth, complexity and opulence that is softened by an elegant, lingering aftertaste. Unfiltered after 1998 vintage.
Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino – Brunello's "younger brother," produced from select Sangiovese grapes and aged in barrique for 10 to 12 months. Deep ruby-red, elegant, vibrant, well-balanced and stylish with a dry velvety finish.
Poggio all’Oro Brunello di Montalcino Riserva – A single vineyard selection of our most historically outstanding Sangiovese, aged five years before release, the additional year more than that required of Brunello including 6 months in barrel and 6 months more in bottle to grant its “Riserva” designation. Incredible elegance and harmony. Intense with lots of fruit and subtle wood influence. Round, complete, well balanced with hints of chocolate and berries. Unfiltered after 1998.
Poggio alle Mura – The first tangible result of years of intensive clonal research on Montalcino’s native Sangiovese grape. Estate bottled from the splendidly sun drenched vineyards surrounding the medieval Castello from which it takes its name. The Brunello di Montalcino is seductive, silky and smoky. Deep ruby in color with an expressive bouquet of violets, fruits and berries as well as cigar box, cedar and exotic spices. The Rosso di Montalcino is also intense ruby red. The bouquet is fresh and fruity with typical varietal notes of cherry and blackberry, enriched by more complex hints of licorice, tobacco and hazelnut. It is full bodied, yet with a soft structure, and a surprisingly long finish. The Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is deep ruby red with garnet reflections and a rich, ample bouquet that hints of prune jam, coffee, cacao and a light balsamic note. It is full and powerful, with ripe and gentle tannins that make it velvety and harmonious; this wine is supported by a pleasing minerality that to me speaks soundly of that special hillside in southern Montalcino.
SummuS – A wine of towering elegance, SummuS is an extraordinary blend of Sangiovese which contributes body; Cabernet Sauvignon for fruit and structure; and Syrah for elegance, character and a fruity bouquet. An elegant, complex and harmonious red wine.
Cum Laude – A complex and elegant red which graduated “With Honors,” characterized by aromas of juicy berries and fresh spices.
Centine – A Cuvee that is more than half Sangiovese, the balanced consisting of equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Vinified in a firm, round style that easily accompanies a wide range of dishes, this is a smooth and fragrantly satisfying wine with international character, and a perennial favorite at my own dinner table.
Banfi Chianti Superiore – The “Superiore” designation signifies stricter government regulations regarding production and aging requirements, as compared to regular Chianti. An intense ruby red wine with fruit forward aromas and floral notes. This is a round wine with well-balanced acidity and fruit.
Banfi Chianti Classico – An enduring classic: alluring bouquet of black fruit and violets; rich flavors of cherry and leather; supple tannins and good acidity for dining.
Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva – Produced from select grapes grown in the "Classico" region of Chianti, this dry, fruity and well-balanced red has a full bouquet reminiscent of violets.
Fonte alla Selva Chianti Classico – This is our newest entry into the Chianti arena, coming from a 99 acre estate in Castellina, the heart of the Chianti Classico region. The wine is a captivating mauve red that smells of cherry, plum and blackberry with hints of spice. It is round, full and balanced with very good acidity.
Col di Sasso – Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Luscious, complex and soft with persistent notes of fruit and great Italian style structure.
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Eating Las Vegas
JOHN CURTAS has been covering the Las Vegas
food and restaurant scene since 1995. He is
the co-author of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50
Essential Restaurants (as well as
the author of the Eating Las Vegas web site: www.eatinglasvegas.
He can also be seen every Friday morning as
the “resident foodie” for Wake Up With the
Wagners on KSNV TV (NBC) Channel 3 in
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NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani,
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