July 26, 2011

Tastes: 2009 Flowers Chardonnay Sonoma Coast

I was recently invited to join in another Tastelive event in which bloggers from around the county taste wines from a specific region or producer on a specific night. This time, the focus was Flowers Winery, a small, family owned winery located high up on the Sonoma Coast with a history of crafting terroir-driven wines in an old-world style.
I was unable to attend the Flowers Tastelive event in real-time Friday due to a scheduling conflict (which included drinking great Bordeaux from the 1930s...but I digress), but I was fortunate to taste the wines recently nonetheless.
The first wine I tried was the 2009 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast.I was pleasantly surprised by the brisk acidity and minerality in the wine. It was actually very Chablis-like on the palate. Clean, not overdone and rather crisp. There's a touch more heat here than I'd like, but a pretty solid-old school-styled Chard here that could stand some time in bottle. A Chardonnay for fans of a crisp, clean California Chardonnay with no overdone oak and fruit. Very nice.

July 21, 2011

First Take: No. 246 in Decatur

I finally got around to trying No. 246 in Decatur last night. Seems most of the Decatur and ATL food scene has been eagerly awaiting the opening of No. 246, the brain-child of Ford Fry, owner and executive chef at JTC Kitchen. At the helm in the kitchen at No. 246 is the talented Drew Belline, former chef at Floataway Cafe.

Wednesday night No. 246 was buzzing with the energy of a hip new restaurant that comes out of the gate on fire and appears is here to stay. There was nary a miss in the numerous dishes we sampled. Here are a few of the hits:
The cucumber soup was really, really tasty. The essence of refreshing cool cucumber topped with warm, chile-spiced and salty shrimp, almonds, and mint playing nicely off the cool soup. Damn tasty.
The  parpadelle carbonara with crusty, deep-fried soft-boiled egg is just ridiculous.As if carbonara isn't decadent enough, the deep fried crunch of the egg and creamy goodness of the sauce is heavenly. Also tasty was the tortellini in tomato water with cherry tomatoes and basil. My daughter devoured the half-size portion of the tortellini and was looking for more.

We also started with three selections off the "Toasts" section at the top of the menu. This is basically 246's take on bruschetta with the choice of pates and dips to accompany really tasty farm bread. The cannellini beans was tasty as was the smoky pork rillettes with grainy mustard. The roasted fig preserves were a bit of a miss for me, as there was a bit too much vinegar...but no worries, that was really the only misstep of the night.

Another point worth noting is that the menu at 246 is really smartly priced for the realities of 2011. The most expensive large plate is $25, but most choices for small plates, pizzas, and pastas are under $20, with many choices around $12-$15. I should also point out that No. 246 has a very fair $10 corkage fee as long as the wine you bring in is not a wine on their list.

In summary, no. 246 hit all the right notes with me on my first visit and it will undoubtedly become part of my regular rotation. 

No. 246 on Urbanspoon

July 18, 2011

My Bourgogne is Better Than Your...

I've tried, in the past, to discuss here the intricacies of the French classification system (AOC) for classifying wine along a hierarchy of quality within the Burgundy wine-growing region. Within the AOC for Burgundian wine, regional Bourgogne is at the lowest level on the hierarchy. It is simply a wine made from grapes grown in the Burgundy region. No nod to specific village, commune, or vineyard designation here; it's just a wine made from grapes grown in Burgundy. To many folks, good Bourgogne is (or should be?) the heart of Burgundy. It is, after all, the wine of the people, with bottles that can be bought for under $30.

Recently, the trendsetting tastespotter whom I call friend, EatItAtlanta, shared a pretty terrific bottle of 'simple'  Bourgogne Blanc with me. Thing is, this Bourgogne Blanc (blanc in Burgundy = Chardonnay) was far from ordinary. See, this wine was produced by Masion Leroy, one the most legendary domaines in all of Burgundy, and a domain whose Grand Cru wines often fetch prices in excess of $1,000 per bottle. Rest easy, this wine did not cost that much.

This 1999 Maison Leroy Bourgoge Blanc has aged gracefully and offers an excellent drinking experience. Floral and crisp, with just the right amount of aged Chardonnay fruit flavors. It's a testament to what skilled winemakers can do at all levels of the AOC system. If more regional Bourgogne tasted like this, I'd have more money in the bank.  Recent vintages of this wine can be found here and here for around $25.

July 12, 2011

Miso Izakaya

I'm no expert on Izakayas. I don't spend a lot of time searching out great sushi, ramen, or shochu, for that matter. I like the stuff, but I'm far from any authority on the subject. However, it seems Miso Izakaya in the Old Fourth Ward has been buzzing a bit lately as the restaurant has seemed to hit its stride with Guy Wong and crew cranking out some seriously tasty food.
I'm not going to rave on about the menu as everything we had, including the duck confit buns, house salad, and sushi special, were really tasty. But the damn soy-marinated, soft-boiled egg on crispy rice cake (pictured above) is what will bring me back to Miso very soon.. My wife and I ordered three of the buggers over the course of our dinner. Salty, gooey soft-boiled egg on a slightly burnt and crispy rice cake...just a decadent mix of textures and flavors. Perhaps I'm too excited about this rather simple dish, but I want another. Soon.

Miso Izakaya is also the spot to hit if you want to get a taste of Shochu. What is Shochu? I asked the same question when I got there as I am apparently late to the Shochu party. Shochu is a Japanese distilled liquor, not unlike vodka or whiskey, just with about half the alcohol content. Miso has numerous fun infused-shochu drinks like the cucumber-lemongrass pictured here. We also tried the grapefruit and ginger, as well as the basil lemonade, which was right tasty.

Miso Izakaya on Urbanspoon

July 7, 2011

In Praise of Bubbly!

I decided recently that I need to drink more Champagne. I've been fortunate to drink some truly legendary Champagne in the past couple years thanks to some very generous friends. Despite those great wines, I never really thought much about Champagne in the past and never sought it out as something I'd buy regularly. I think part of that attitude comes from being weened on cheap, industrial-strength sparkling wines when I was younger. It seems also that Champagne is often relegated to being a celebration wine, not something one opens on an average Tuesday night. I'm hear to tell you, that's nonsense.
This past week I popped a couple of real nice Champagnes from my meager bubbly collection. The 1999 Godme and the R.H Coutier are both very fine wines that come in at around $40. The great thing about Champagne is that it is perhaps the most versatile wine when it comes to matching with food. Champagne goes with everything, and it's especially tasty to drink ice cold bubbly during the scorching summer months. If you haven't done so lately, get busy and drink some Champagne!