Founded in 1996
"Last Tomatoes of Autumn, 2019" By Galina Dargery
IN THIS ISSUE
NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND
By Geoff Kalish
NEW YORK CORNER
By John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
WINED OF CAMPANIA REVISITED
By Geoff Kalish
NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND
By Geoff Kalish
As a top locale for wining, dining and a bit of golf , Newport, R.I., has a lot going for it, with a number of options for casual and elegant dining as well as a high-caliber winery and a scenic golf course in nearby Middletown. Moreover, the city boasts historic sightseeing, the Newport Mansions, streets lined with art galleries, boutiques and upscale chain-store shops in addition to sandy beaches and numerous possibilities for one-hour to day-long boat excursions and deepwater fishing. Also, because of its island locale, it’s rarely as hot in summer or as cold in winter as its northern and southern neighbors.
Bouchard Restaurant & Inn
505 Thames Street
Located on the main street of downtown Newport, this restaurant is run by Albert Bouchard, the long-time chef at Le Château in South Salem, N.Y., and his wife, Sarah. With its maroon draperies, dark green carpeting and tables dressed in white cloths, the restaurant takes on a formal ambiance, and the knowledgeable, prompt, professional servers add to the aura.
As to the menu, appetizers range from a decadent puff pastry studded with asparagus and lobster bathed in a rich lemony beurre blanc to a tartare of smoked and raw salmon mixed with shallots, cucumber, chopped egg and garnished with sweet, crunchy Peruvian Drop Peppers, and from three salads to a special of thick freshly made gazpacho adrift with chunks of avocado and moist shrimp. From a selection of a dozen main courses we chose an order of seared, medium-rare breast of duck that had crispy skin and flavorful medium rare meat, served with a heady brandy and balsamic sauce and accompanied by wild rice, and a dish of grilled striped bass topped with a zesty sauce of lemon, butter and capers.
We accompanied the meal with an excellent 2017 Frederic Esmonin “Clos Priéure” Gevry-Chambertin that had a bouquet and taste of ripe cherries and vanilla and concluded the meal with a classic Grand Marnier soufflé.
Open for dinner nightly except Tuesday. Expect dinner for two to cost $120-$130;
Also of note, there is a five-room inn atop the restaurant.
The Dining Room at Castle Hill Inn
590 Ocean Drive
High above Narragansett Bay, this historic Inn’s setting and plush ambiance are the same as when last reviewed in this publication some five years ago. However, I had lots of quibbles with the food and service, which were once highly praised. For example: a course of cavatelli was gummy and oversalted; a course of miso-glazed sablefish with mushrooms contained more mushrooms than fish; a portion of dry-aged beef sirloin was served cold; and a serving of salty pork was overcooked and dry. And the service was slow and forgetful: no wine poured after the initial pour and the table cleared with an attempt to offer coffee before the main course arrived.
Open for dinner nightly. Dinner costs $85 a person for three courses or $125 a person for a five-course tasting menu.
The Lobster Bar
31 Bowen’s Wharf
Bowen’s Wharf, jutting into the Bay and lined with eateries, fudge shops, boutiques and souvenir stores, is always bustling, and this casual restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating affording a panoramic view of the Newport Harbor, is an obvious popular casual spot offering seafood-oriented luncheon and dinner menus.
Given its name, there are lots of sensibly-priced lobster dishes, running the gamut from a tasty appetizer of lobster (four ounces) and avocado chunks on a bed of arugula with a dollop of wasabi to a traditional “naked” lobster roll (right), with more than four ounces of lobster meat, crunchy celery, dill and a touch of mayonnaise, served with a side of drawn butter. Baked lobster is stuffed with baby shrimp and bay scallops, and grilled salmon (certainly not drawn from New England waters) came with a lime-ginger butter. Service is friendly and prompt and there’s a surprisingly good selection of modestly priced wines available.
Open daily from 11 a.m. until very late during from spring through fall. Expect lunch for two to cost $90-$100.
Taproot Brewing Company
909 East Main Road
This restaurant resides within the main building of Newport Vineyards (see below), offering dining in a large tavern-like room and on an outdoor terrace area, both overlooking a large expanse of vines. The fare is a cut above the usual lunchtime fodder, with appetizers meant for sharing, including an excellent cheese platter of 3-5 local seasonal soft and hard cheeses accompanied by an assortment of dried fruit, nuts and honeycomb, and breads and a charcuterie board. Salads are enticing, too: fresh-picked local tomatoes with cucumbers, basil and sliced parmesan dressed in good olive oil and well-aged balsamic, and one of cold soba noodles mixed with shavings of summer vegetables and baby kale doused with a Thai chili vinaigrette.
Main courses ranged from a New England lobster roll to a sandwich of house-cured pastrami to a clam flatbread and regular as well as vegetarian burgers. Also, there’s a clam flatbread loaded with the bivalves as well as house-cured bacon, oregano, parmesan cheese and a touch of garlic. And to accompany the meal there are glasses of the winery’s wine and beer available.
Open daily for lunch. Expect lunch for two to cost $40-$50.
As for wining, after recently visiting a number of Connecticut wineries with barely passable wares, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of what’s being produced at Newport Vineyards. Owned by the Nunes family, the estate now produces in excess of 28,000 cases a year from grapes grown on the 100-acre property, under the direction of affable winemaker George Chelf.
Of the 29 wines he makes (14 whites, 7 reds, 4 rosés and 4 dessert wines) I particularly liked the following: the 2018 Dry Riesling ($22) that showed a zesty bouquet and taste of ripe peaches and lemons with a vibrant finish perfect to go with chicken, veal or swordfish; a 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé loaded with ripe strawberry and raspberry flavors with a crisp finish, that makes a good match for appetizers as well as spicy fare like Buffalo wings; a non-vintage Rochambeau (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot) that had a complex taste of plums and blueberries with notes of chocolate in its smooth finish, a worthy mate for grilled beef or lamb; and a non-vintage Vidal Ice Wine with a bouquet and taste of honey and lychee that had a surprisingly crisp finish with hints of lime, that would make excellent accompaniment to blue-veined cheeses.
Open daily year round with tours available Sunday - Friday at 1 and 3 p.m., and Saturdays at 10 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.
Newport National Golf Course
324 Mitchel’s Lane
Originally designed by famed golf course designer Arthur Hills, this 7,244-yard meticulously maintained “links-type” tract, only 10-15 minutes by car from downtown Newport, features wide sloping carpet-like fairways as well as some deep rough, tall fescue, marshes, winds off Narragansett Bay and strategically placed bunkers. However, with four sets of tees, it provides ample rewards and challenge for novices as well as long-hitting low handicappers. Of note, we found the staff friendly and the pace of play quite reasonable. Greens fees during the “season” run $125 per person, including a cart.
And rather than stay amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown Newport, we chose the recently renovated Sea Breeze Inn in Middletown (147 Aquindnecck Avenue; 401-849-1211). It offers clean, comfortable, reasonably priced accommodations overlooking the Bay and a short car ride from Easton’s Beach and the famed Cliff Walk, and another 3-4 minutes car ride to downtown. Moreover, the owners, Telly and Leeza (Yiayia) Amarant, are a fountain of information about the area, restaurants and activities.
NEW YORK CORNER
By John Mariani
Avenue (near 75th Street)
upon a time New York’s Yorkville neighborhood,
whose main artery was East 86th Street,
running from there north to 96th and south to
72nd, was heavily populated by German and
Eastern European immigrants, many of
whom ran restaurants in the area. Today the
only vestige is Heidelberg and the butcher
Schaller & Weber. In
their place are numerous restaurants of every
stripe, and one of the most welcome is the
northern Thai restaurant Thep on Second Avenue
and 75th Street.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
WINES OF CAMPANIA REVISITED
By Geoff Kalish
Ciani Cantine Family,
Ciani Cantine Family, Campania
general, these wines mate well with mild fish,
like cod, turbot, sea bass, and branzino, as well
as pasta with white sauce and even chicken. Of
note, my top three wines were entirely or
predominately made from the indigenous Falanghina
grape, prominent in a number of areas in Campania,
especially those with volcanic soils. And the
other two wines were fashioned from the
Fiano varietal (of which 85% is required for the
Mustilli Vigna Segreta DOC ($30)—This wine from Sant’Agata de
Goti, about 20 miles northeast of Naples, showed a
rich bouquet and taste of pears and lemons, with
notes of almonds in its citrusy finish.
Donnachiara Resilienza IGT ($16)—From grapes grown northeast of
Naples in the Taburno territory, this outstanding
bargain-priced bottle had a bouquet and taste of
ripe peaches and pears with hints of lemons and
grapefruit in its refreshing finish.
Marisa Cuomo Furore Bianco DOC ($32)--Made from a blend of 60%
Falanghini and 40% Biancolella grapes grown near
the tiny, remote town of Furore on the Amalfi
Coast, and aged in stainless-steel tanks for four
months following fermentation, the wine has a
bouquet and taste of apples and earthy herbs with
notes of almonds in its long, lingering finish.
I Favati Pietramara DOCG ($26)—This light easy-drinking wine
shows a bouquet and taste of apples, herbs and a
touch of pineapple in its crisp finish.
Tenuta Sarno 1860 Di Maura Adele DOCG ($22)—This complex wine with a bouquet
and taste of pineapple, pears and papaya with a
bit of apricot in its finish may seem too fruity
to some consumers, but it mates well with bland
cheeses like brie and Camembert as well as mild
majority of red wines produced in Campania are
from the Aglianico varietal (100% or blended with
other grape types), the Piedirosso varietal is
making a resurgence. Originally planted
in Campania the 19th century, after most vineyards
were devastated by the Phylloxera epidemic,
made from Piederosso grapes seemed to lose
popularity in the 20th century, but are now
emerging as some excellent easy-drinking,
well-priced products. Of note, all of these reds
mate particularly well with flavorful seafare like
swordfish, salmon and arctic char as well as with
pizza, eggplant Parmesan and pasta with meat
although your neighborhood shop may not carry
these bottles, they’re worth seeking out.
2012 Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico DOC ($45)—Made with Aglianico grapes grown in the mountainous Irpinia region, this big, bold wine shows a bouquet and taste dominated by ripe plums and cranberries with hints of clove in its long lingering finish.
Cantine Ciani Taurasi DOCG ($38)—Even though this 100% Aglianico,
from a winery in the hills high above Naples, is a
decade old it shows a rich, concentrated bouquet
and mouth-filling taste of ripe plums and cherries
with a smooth, elegant finish (demonstrating the
ability of these wines to age gracefully).
Mustilli Sannio DOC ($20)—Made from 100% organically farmed
Piedirosso grapes that were fermented and aged in
stainless steel tanks, this bargain wine shows a
perfumed bouquet and taste of ripe cherries and
raspberries with a bit of spice in its finish.
Donnachiara Taurasi DOCG ($36)—This Aglianico wine has a bouquet
and taste of plums and cherries with a hint of
thyme and chocolate in its long lasting finish.
2013 Cantine Lonardo Contrade di Taurasi ($45)—Made from Aglianico grapes, this elegant wine shows a bouquet and well integrated taste of cherries, plums and herbs with a bit of tannin in its finish.
SHOCKED! WE'RE SHOCKED!
► Fries are toddlers’ favorite vegetable
►McDonald’s sells insane amounts of French fries
►Waffle fries aren’t made
anywhere near similar to waffles
►Not all potatoes make fries of the same quality
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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:
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
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET
NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani,
Robert Mariani, Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Gerry Dawes, Geoff Kalish,
and Brian Freedman. Contributing
Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical
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