Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday Nights, Set Your Sights on Compass

Well, it’s Restaurant Week in NYC, but don’t worry if you miss it. You can still get awesome nosh at a sleek Upper West Side spot for a cool $35. The prix fix menu at Compass restores one’s faith in fine dining on a budget. A few friends and I recently feasted on decadently rich mushroom soup, beautiful striped sea bass, and crunchy-creamy chocolate-peanut butter torte. But the coup de grace was that on Sunday nights, bottles of wine are half price! Their wine list is a wondrous: France is well represented, there are pages of California pours, and much, much more. Unfortunately, that wonderful wine list could ruin your budget meal, even at half price. Turning to my favorite Burgundy, Gevrey-Chambertin, I realized I could get the $300 bottle for only $150 that night. Still a little rich for my blood. So, here is my suggestion. Our quartet enjoyed a little gem of a Beaujolais, a 2005 Morgon, that had good fruit, elegant structure, and was thoroughly enjoyable with the bass. We drank two half-priced bottles, basically paying $46 for one and getting the other for free.
We felt thoroughly pampered, despite ordering off the prix fixe. There was a tasty amuse-bouche of lamb to start and four Lilleputian desserts--from a little cube of home-made marshmallow to tiny cookies--to finish. As we lounged at the table and waited for the check, we were shocked to receive yet another gift…each couple received a bag with two muffins. As our waiter explained, “And here’s something for tomorrow.” The next day, my friends and I all marveled at the delightful muffin that extended the pleasure of our visit to Compass.

Monday, January 14, 2008

WBW #41 Friuli Venezia

This varietal from northeast Italy was a real eye-opener. So much richer and fruitier than many of the crisp yet bland Pinot Grigios I've had. The aroma was very rich, full of ripe apricot. The flavor was equally lively. The Vigna Traversa Ribolla Gialla I tried was bursting with fruit, had very nice acidity and a long finish. Very satisfying and refreshing. This 2006 was about $16. Thanks for the topic!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

That Extra Bottle

My family threw a big party over the holidays, and a lot of our guests brought wine. Which resulted in me having a bottle of Yellow Tail Chardonnay left over. I wasn’t going to hold on to that one (unlike the bottle of Chablis from a friend who knows my taste better). I decided that my book club meeting was the perfect place to unload, I mean, share the bottle. We discussed Suite Francaise, a beautifully written tale of the Nazi occupation of France. As we analyzed the complex story of more than a dozen different characters, we enjoyed the kinds of snacks that make bookclub a good place to come hungry: nacho dip, cheese and crackers, one-bite cupcakes, Oreos with peppermint cream, a full box of Russell Stover Chocolates. The hostess was charming, but no oenophile: she handed me the corkscrew to open the bottle. It was amazing how a little wine relaxed the ladies and enlivened the conversation. The Yellow Tail tasted fine. And on a night like this, the wine didn’t have to be expensive or complicated or nuanced. It just had to be there. Now, if I could only unload that extra beer