Monday, September 25, 2006

Wine & Roses Wine Bar & Cafe

Manhattan upper west side - In my endless search for a great wine bar in NYC, I'm on the subway...oops I'm on the E, not the A or C that I want and end up in Queens.
OK after backtracking I finally end up at 72nd street exit in search of Wine & Roses Wine Bar & Cafe. A wine bar offering 24 wines by the glass, 100 by the bottle, but alas only 25 seats and someone is having a birthday party.

Need to grab a bite so a block north is Cafe Frida featuring contemporary Mexican. Nice place very authentic, but we'll be the judge after tasting the salsa and chips. Try the chile experience featuring several different chiles - roasted tomatillo & serrano, chipotle, chile de arbol, chile mulato, Xni pe habernero and smoked pasilla. Add in the Camarones Quesadilla with a Pacifica you're all set...the wine will have to wait a few minutes.

On the way back there is finally room at Wine & Roses and so we belly up to the bar to get a look at the menu. Like a lot of NY wine bars there are a lot of French, Spain and Chile choices, but very few from California. The choices are not a "Wow" and therefore I don't even remember the brand. Too bad I don't want to make that bad choice again.

But aside from the lack of California choices this looks like a great wine bar. I really liked the fact that the owner handed me a menu over the bar when just walking in the front door. The service and decor was top notch.

Plus guys - there were 3-4 girls for every guy in there. A little wine knowledge would go a long way in having a good evening.

It's a repeat, only because of the service and the promise that the wine list changes all the time.

Wine & Roses Wine Bar & Cafe - 286 Columbus Ave (212) 579- 9463
Take the A or C subway north to 72nd street one block west.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Bar in Hell

LANSDOWNE ROAD is a brand new new bar that is sprucing up the 10th Ave & W. 43rd Street neighborhood in Hell's Kitchen.

Lansdowne Road is the name of both a road in Dublin, Ireland and a sports stadium located there, but generally refers to the stadium owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and is used mostly for rugby. Originally named the Marquess of Lansdowne. (thanks to Wikipedia)

Why name a bar after a famous road in Dublin? Well from the clientele the Irish really like to drink! Word of caution - don't try to match them beer for beer or you'll be crawling home!

One first things you'll notice is the cool bar - literally...the bar has the refrigerator lines running through the top in glass so you can put your glass on it to keep it cold. The same line keep several beers Ice Cold and produces a layer of ice on the outside of the tap. Only certain beer work - oddly enough the ones with higher alcohol content - Stella, Coors Light.

Last weekend was opening night and they had an open bar from 7-9pm. Never saw so many people texting their friends...and the crowd built very quickly.

The owner and bartenders all introduced themselves and have remember my name since...nice touch. A true neighborhood bar. There are several Plasma TV's for viewing your favorite sports - which is tough last week - we had the Mets & Yankees trying to clinch their divisions, College Football, US open and of course the Ryder Cup this weekend.

Standard Irish Fare on the menu - like Fish & Chips, but also check out their sliders and because one of the owners is from "Scruffy Duffy's" they have great wings.

The wine list needs some help with current offerings like Casa Lapostolle, a Cabernet from Spain. I'll help get some California offerings on the list...if just for me and my friends. Who says you can't watch football and share some great vino?

Another good place for pre or post Broadway show or off Broadway show like Jewtopia.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Vino - Versity at Divine Bar

Manhattan - Divine Bar West hosts "walk-around classes" with up to 36 wines every Tuesday from 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

Upcoming events:

9/26 Bubbles and Blinis - comparative tasting of prestige cuvees, vintage and non-vintage Champagnes, Cavas, Proseccos and Sparkling Wine from around the world.

10/10 Wine & Chocolate - Can't go wrong with spicy Zins, Syrahs, Late Harvest Desert Wine and of course more Champagne. Oh Yeah and Chocolate!

11/07 Big Beefy Reds - This is an "All BT" Tasting with dozens of big, bold, spicy, and meaty Cabernets, Merlots, Syrahs, Zins and more paired with an erray of Beef Hours O'Deuvres.

11/21 Tuscany & Parmesan - World class tasting of reds and whites from Central Italia plus cheesy Parmesan tapas.

Tickets for these events $35 in advance

Divine Bar West located at 236 W. 54th at Broadway.

If you don't make it to the Tuesday tastings - they have up to 100 wines that can be sampled nightly from 2 oz. taste up, full glass or the whole bottle.

Nice place to warm up before a Broadway me you'll be guaranteed to get in a quick nap during the 2nd act.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Pennsylvania Weekend - Fishing & Wine

Now that I'm working on the East Coast I've been visiting our family cottage on the Juniata River in Central PA. Which is just over a 3 hour drive from Manhattan (me driving - 4 hours for others...)

The change of the season is in the air and the trees are starting to show some color.

Awaking early Saturday morning the mist is rising off the river. I put my surf shoes and bathing suit on and get my fishing gear ready to go wading in the river. Good morning! the water is already cooler than just a few weeks ago...that will wake you up.

Today's target - Smallmouth Bass - pound for pound one of the strongest fighting fish there is!
Wading upstream using top waters and in just over an hour I only have few bite from undersized fish. Mostly because the water is so low this time of year - it's been only up to my knees so far. Need to find some deeper water - as I approach one of the islands in the middle of the river it starts getting deeper - now we're up to waist level - deep water for this part of the river. Off to my left I see something chasing minnows into the shallows. Quick cast to the spot and Bam! A Bass goes after my lure and the battle is this fish is taking out line...we have a contender...the drag is screaming...I have to chase after this fish if we're going to see how big it is...running downstream I catch up to the fish...and finally bring it up for a good look - nice 2+ pound fish - which is big - I'm only using Ultra Lite tackle and 4 pound test - so its been a battle. I admire the fish and carefully take out the treble hook from his lip and place him back into the water. Nice...this spot yeilded over 20 Bass - in my childhood fishing the stream I never encountered such a sweet spot. But the water is low and this is the only deep water so there stacked up, hungry and competing for food. What a nice way to start the day...but now it's off to sample some PA wine!

Grape harvest season in all ready in full-swing in Pennsylvania. It begins about mid-August and ends about mid-October (which is also a great time to see the Fall Colors).

So what types of wine can you find in PA.? The terroir and moderate climate provides some of the best grape growing conditions on the east coast. With over 90 wineries in the state, the roster of award-winning varietals includes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Catawba, Cayuga, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Reisling, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Vignoles - and, yes, even methode Champenoise! There are a few I'm not familar with, but its fun to come up with some new favorites.

1st stop only because the GPS in the Mercedes says its the closest - Benigna's Creek Vineyard
Nestled in the pristine Mahantango Valley. The winery is situated at the highest point in the valley and on a clear day, you can see across the Susquehanna River, over 30 miles. (useless waterway fact for $1,000 Bob? - The Susquehanna is the largest fresh water source of the Chesapeake Bay)
This winery produces a wide variety of fruit and grape wines. Bring a picnic and sit on the porch and beautiful rear deck. Wines include Late Harvest $ 15.00 to fruit wines like Raspberry $ 10.00 to the tolerable Hessian Red $ 8.50, nice Cabernet Franc $ 8.00 and Chardonnay $ 8.00. Yes the wine is a bargain, but to my taste buds its commesurate to the taste for my California palate.

Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery is the next stop in Centre Hall, PA. Guess I never knew where the name of the mountain lions originated for Penn State Nittany Lions. OK what is this fascination with sweet wine in PA? You know I never liked the wine my parents I know why - Hold the sugar Bob!
Aside from their sweet wine - they had some respectable Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Reserve, also some decent reds - Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and this is the second time today I've seen the Chambourcin - a light-bodied dry red; nice fruit flavor forward, with a hint of oak. Reminds me of Chevry something from France.
Also try their Bordeaux Blend called "Montage". Lots of American Oak in use here...hey we're deep in the woods what do you expect?

Oops why didn't someone tell there was a Penn State game? Oh well they won so everyone's happy! Traffic sucks - game just got out. But we make it back to the cottage safe and sound.

Makes for a nice escape from New York City.

For more info: