Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is Almost Over…So What Are You Waiting For?!?!

I almost have to apologize for writing this post so late as the HVRW is coming to an end. So not to get bogged down and overloaded with attempted wit, fairly obvious observations (Seinfeld reference) and a bit of wine geek talk I’ll get right to the point…go and take advantage while you still can!

It seems the down economy has given the local restaurants a real kick in the ass to up their game and stack the HVRW menus both in quality and quantity. The participating restaurants are offering a 3 course menu for $28 including an appetizer, entrée and desert. Not a bad deal considering some of the high end restaurants that are involved.

(See the link below)

http://www.hudsonvalleyrestaurantweek.com/home.php

A large group of us went to Restaurant 42 atop the Ritz Carlton in White Plains and it was a real treat. Not only are the views spectacular and the ambiance delightful, but the portions were pretty healthy all things considered. I went with a salmon tartar that was fresh and tasty followed by an 8-10 oz skirt steak that left me feeling nicely full and satisfied. That is not always the case with Restaurant Week as some places tend to cheap out since the customers are not paying full boat. Fantastic wine list as well.

I also ventured over the bridge into Rockland with my wife and friends to the Hudson House in Nyack. Much different atmosphere, but equally enjoyable. With about 4 or 5 selections of apps and entrees respectively, there is something for everyone. The potato gnocchi were soft and tender and the beef tenderloin (yes, I like red meat) was served with a delectable polenta. On top of having a very affordable wine list, their corkage fee is only $15 so it’s a nice opportunity to bring one of the nicer bottles from your own collection.

I have heard nothing but good things from people in the area who have ventured to other restaurants as well including Ruth’s Chris, Red Hat Bistro, Restaurant X and of course my friends at The TapHouse. HVRW goes through Sunday 3/27 so if you have the chance this weekend, try and get out and taste a little of the Hudson Valley at a price that is easier to swallow than usual. Salute!!

Some Green Wine Selections for St. Patty’s Day

I know, I know… who drinks wine on St. Patrick’s Day?!? No question that beer rules this day of parades, shamrocks, shenanigans, corned beef, ethnic confusion (drinking your face off and wearing green does not make you Irish) and the dreaded morning after regret. But for those who choose to take a more sophisticated route towards the debauchery, there are still ways to keep in the spirit of the holiday. While dying wine green is just not a real viable option, below are some ideas of how to drink Green Wine this St. Patty’s Day.

In Portugal, Vinho Verde is the white wine of choice for many reasons. It is a wine made from local grapes in a young and refreshing style with lots of citrus flavors and even a bit of effervescence… and it’s cheap! The literal translation of Vinho Verde is “Green Wine”, almost as if they named it on purpose for St. Patrick’s Day consumption. Plus it typically has a lower alcohol level than most wines (around 7-11%) so you can drink this stuff all day and still make it out to the bars after the parade.

Not feeling like the light whites are going to do the trick? How about reaching for some Organic options. While they may not look green in color or have it in the name, they are certainly green in the environmental sense of the word and get the approving nod from Mother Nature. Bonterra’s Cab from the North Coast of CA has to be one of the best values around. For about $15 this fruit driven, approachable wine is loaded with lots of tasty currant and berry flavors surrounded by cedar and spicy nuances.

If you’re looking for something a little more intense and upscale, then check out the wines from Hall Vineyards in Napa. Pound for pound they are producing some of the best wines to come out of the region, and are quite possibly the greenest winery in town.

Still not feeling like these wines have enough Irish in them? How about trying some actual Irish wine? Kidding… that is not a good idea. But trying some wines from the Green Valley of California is a great way to go! A sub appellation in the Russian River Valley, this area is producing some of the best Pinots and Chardonnays in all of Sonoma. Unfortunately because this is such an exclusive and fantastic growing area, these wines fetch a pretty penny. But St. Patty’s only comes once a year so live it up! Some of my favorite wines from the area are made by Dutton Goldfield, Sequana and Iron Horse.

Whatever Green drink you choose to indulge in this St. Patrick’s Day be sure to do it in good health, do it responsibly and to share it with some of your Irish brethren.

Sláinte!

Giving up Wine for Lent…well, maybe just some wines.

For those practicing Catholics out there, Lent is just around the corner. Without getting too theological, this period leading up to Easter is a time of prayer, penance and giving up something for 40 days that would be considered a sacrifice. Unlike my cousin who gives up white wine every year ( I have seen him drink white wine once in my entire life ), I am taking this opportunity to lay off some of my favorite wines. As a kicker, I am sick of this stinkin’ winter and making a move to some more Spring styled selections. If that Groundhog can’t bring in the warm weather, maybe the WWG can!

The first wine on the list… Napa Cabs. This is going to be tough but necessary if we are talking both about sacrifice as well as avoiding the wines that keep you warm on those cold winter nights. I will certainly miss the lush currant and black cherry flavors, as well as the sweet vanilla and cedar nuances. However I will try to fill the void with the wines of Chianti. While they may not be as big and bold as those Napa Cabs, they offer wonderful fruit and oak complexities that are a bit lighter in nature. Just what the doctor ordered for those warmer Spring days.

The next wines to give up will be the Rhone Reds. I know that’s pretty general, but I am a sucker for almost all the wines from that region (Cotes du Rhones, Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Crozes Hermitage, etc) These Grenache/Syrah based reds are meaty, hearty and fruit driven wines that can be both powerful and sophisticated at the same time. Instead I will try and venture into the lighter side of France and jump on the Beaujolais train.

While most people are only familiar with the simple and fruity Beaujolais Nouveau, there are some fantastic wines from the Beaujolais-Villages and Cru Beaujolais areas. These wines can be soft and supple with cherry pie, raspberry and smoky characteristics that cry for the warmer weather to commence. Also unlike the more basic Nouveau style, the finer crafted wines can be very food friendly and benefit from aging.

Lastly, it’s time to say goodbye to those big, buttery and oaky Chardonnays. While they are perfectly suited for those fireside evenings while watching the snow fall, they are not meant for the sun and fun that we are trying to evoke here. Nothing says Spring like a crisp and refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio, especially the ones from the Collio DOC. If all those floral and citrus aromas and flavors can’t lift us off into the Spring, I just don’t know what can.

Below are some suggestions for each of my “Lent” wines… and of course even if you don’t participate in Lent, these wines are a fun and enjoyable way to ring in the new season. Cheers!

CHIANTI

Under $15

2009 Querceto Chianti

2008 Banfi Chianti Classico

$16-30

2007 Vitticio Chianti Classico Riserva

2006 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva

$30 and Up

2005 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riseva Ducale  Oro Gold Label

2006 Ricasoli Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio

BEAUJOLAIS

Under $15

2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages

2009 Georges Duboeuf Morgon

$16-30

2009 Chateau des Jacques, Louis Jadot Moulin a Vent

2009 Chateau de Pierreux  Brouilly

PINOT GRIGIO

Under $15

2009 Zenato

2009 Barone Fini Valdadige ( Half the price as Santa Margherita and just as good!)

$16-30

2009 Livio Felluga Collio

2009 Fiegl Collio