February 24, 2011

2009 Villa Ponciago Fleurie La Reserve

I 've been popping a good number of 2009 Cru Beaujolais in the past six months. What's nice, is that unlike many of the other wines I post about, most of the 2009s I've posted on are easily found around ATL for $25 or less (many are less than $20). Many of the 2009s are providing excellent drinking now, while also possessing the ability to age for a bit.
Recently, I opened my second bottle of the 2009 Villa Ponciago Fleurie Reserve. The Villa Ponciago is perhaps the most backward of the '09s I've opened. It's a wine that really needs a couple years to reveal itself. The wine does not give up much right now. Drink it without giving it a lot of air and one might thins, "huh, where's the good stuff?" Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with this wine; it's just a wine that serves as a good example of a wine that is built to age a bit and is just closed up pretty tightly right now. Go get some and forget about it for a while. I think you will be rewarded in a couple years.

February 17, 2011

Well-Deserved Honors for Cakes & Ale

I've professed my love for Decatur's Cakes & Ale here several times over the past couple of years. I do love my hometown haunt, but let's be clear, Cakes & Ale is not only Decatur's finest, it's clearly among the top dining destinations for ITP dining in Metro ATL. And it's not like I needed to feel validated in my love for Cakes & Ale, but recently the restaurant was recognized nationally for its brilliance. 
First, Chef Billy Allin was nominated for the title of The People’s Best New Chef 2011 by Food & Wine and CNN’s Eatocracy. The new award expands on Food & Wine's Best New Chef awards that the magazine has given out for many than 20 years. The new award has a field of nominees that includes 10 chefs in 10 regions throughout the country, but for this award the public determines the winner. The People’s Best New Chef via the February 15 through March 1 online voting competition. You can vote via the link above. I voted for Billy. You should, too!

As if that honor was not cool enough, I was recently informed that Cakes & Ale's Pastry Chef, Cynthia Wong, was nominated for a 2011 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef!  This is a well-deserved honor and only whets my appetite for what's in store when the new Cakes & Ale location opens with full bakery later in the Spring. 

Kudos to two fine chefs. 
And a thank you to them for continuing to put still funky 'ol Decatur in the spotlight as a dining destination.


February 16, 2011

Woodfire Grill Still Got It

I hadn't been to Woodfire Grill in Atlanta in a while. A long while. Too long, really. I've been a fan of Woodfire since the Michael Tuohy days, but Woodfire is now a rock star restaurant since Kevin Gillespie took over a couple of years ago. I've never been disappointed with a meal at Woodfire. The food is always perfectly situated within the season, and is at once challenging, homey, and satisfying. Again, on this recent visit, there was nary a misstep in anything I tasted.
We started with the roasted honey mussels with house made pancetta., roasted shallot, beurre fondue, chile oil and bread crumbs. This dish was a rich and soul-satisfying start to the meal; the crispy pancetta playing nicely off the texture of the warm mussels. Sorry for the crappy droid pic above.

We also started with the salad of baby lettuces, Benton’s bacon, cucumber, sunchokes, and buttermilk dressing. If there was a slight misstep all night, it was this salad. The lettuces were left large, I suppose on purpose to indicate a famrness or hominess, so much so that what came to the table was a sloppy pile of very large sections of greens. And, the Benton's was hard to find. If you're gonna tell me there's Benton's bacon in the salad, I bet get some damn Benton's! The salad was actually tasty, though, so no deal-breaker here.

The entrees were equally tasty. We ordered the Hudson Valley duck breast with roasted local sunchokes,
alsatian style green cabbage, orange butter, and 100yr old balsamic as well as the grilled natural Angus beef striploin with chimichurri, candied garlic, crispy sweet potatoes, and local oyster mushrooms. The duck breast was the real winner here, perfectly crisped skin and succulent pinkish breast meat that was packed with rich, earthy flavor. The duck breast was a nice match with the red Burgundy I carried in, the 2002 Maruice Ecard Savingy Les Beaune Peuillets (thank you Woodfire for the reasonable $20 corkage fee). In sum, another fine meal at Woodfire Grill.

February 10, 2011

A Night of Grand Wines, UGA Caviar, and Black Sabbath

I was fortunate to attend a dinner this week where we opened some really fine wines. They were not ordinary wines in any way. Well, perhaps for this crowd they are ordinary, but we're a strange and fortunate bunch.
The wines were all of Grand Cru quality, and I mean that both figuratively and literally. From the Champagnes to start, to a 1977 Taylor Port finisher, there were brilliant wines all night. Yes, I consider myself lucky to partake in such an embarrassment of riches.

The real gem of the night, even after numerous mind-bogglingly good wines, was a 1971 Corton Marechaudes from Prince Merode
Yep, a wine that was older than many of the people at the table drinking it. It wasn't the best wine of the night, not really even that great a wine unto itself. But, there's magic in drinking aged wines that surprise and enlighten with their personality and wisdom. It provides an experience that's just not found in drinking young wines. 40 year old Burgundy is not for everyone...you have to listen closely, but that's part of the beauty.  Although...we were listening to Black Sabbath this night, so go figure.

 There was also some incredible food, but I'm not naming names to protect the innocent. It was indeed a great night with some very good friends. I know there will be there more, and for that I'm thankful. 
Oh yeah, there was UGA Caviar, too.

February 2, 2011

2009 Marcel Lapierre Morgon

I first posted on this wine back in the Fall when I tore into a bunch of 2009 Cru Beaujolais to see what the fuss was about.  I recently opened another bottle of the Lapierre and was swooned again. The wine is really open and fleshy for such a young wine, yet it has enough in reserve to clearly age for a bit. However, I continue to find it immediately appealing, and it has delighted both geeks and non-geeks alike in my company.

 This Lapierre can still be found locally, most recently for around $20 at Toco Giant on Druid Hills. Go get some. Drink one now, and bury a couple to try a few years down the road. You won't be disappointed.