It’s All Greek To Me, But Only Some Of It Is Worth Drinking

What’s old is new, and what’s new is old, right?

Nowhere does that seem more true than within the culture of natural wine. After all the money spent on science and technology in the late 20th century, with the goal of creating a commercial wine industry, and thousands and thousands of wineries installing temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks for a quick and consistent fermentation, people all over the world are now putting their grapes into clay amphorae, fermenting them without sulfites, and letting wine be just about as wild as it was back in the days of Dionysus. 

Crazy, right? Next thing you know, people will actually be talking to each other in cafés instead of perusing Instagram on their phones. Er, probably not . . .

In Greece, a country with 4000 years of documented viticultural history, modern winemaking dominates, and is strongly influenced by Bordeaux-style oenology. But there are a few people making really interesting, low-intervention or natural wines, and elevating the country’s fascinating indigenous grapes. My article about the producers leading the way for natural wines in Greece is up on Sprudge Wine, read here

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I had the pleasure of tasting many of these wines during a recent visit to the country. What’s important to mention here, too, is that the wines really shine especially with Greek food, which is rich in flavor and features lots of fresh Mediterranean vegetables, like eggplant and tomato, as well as plenty of meat, feta cheese, and dolmas. So, ideally, that would be the way to enjoy the wines; however, I did recently have a fantastic 2013 Xinomavro from a producer named Oenos at a restaurant here in Paris (cute place called Tannat, in the 11ème), and it was perfect with duck. (Although Xinomavro with moussaka, that’s just, like, boom.)

moussaka!!! so good!

If you live in New York, I really recommend the restaurant Molyvos, where I first tasted many of these wines a couple years back with the very knowledgable wine director, Kamal Kouiri; the food is really delicious and classic.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Meet Sprudge Wine (And My Fave Rosés This Year)

There’s a new kid on the wine journalism block (and no, I’m not referring to my own magazine, which has just about 24 hours left in its Kickstarter campaign if you want to pre-order Issue 1).

I’m talking about Sprudge Wine, an offspring of the madly popular coffee website Sprudge. The editor, Jordan Michelman, has fallen hard for wine, to the point where he decided to begin publishing wine journalism. Having met Jordan during a recent visit to Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his family, I can attest that he has great taste in wine. Example:

(That gamay from Julien Labet was a truly awesome wine; thanks, Jordan.)

I think the new Sprudge Wine site, which compares natural wine aptly to third-wave coffee, is going to do great things (follow them on IG and Twitter to keep up). To kick things off, I’ve got a post recommending some great rosés to drink now (including bubbles, and and one delicious Cerasuolo–I take “pink” as a broad category, faaaar beyond Provençal-style juice). As well, I have my final writings on the New York scene for the time being: a round-up of some slightly under-the-radar spots to eat well and drink great wine (why would you ever want to do one without the other)? Oh man, am I already getting nostalgic for New York? No . . . maybe???

Read my rosé recos here, and the restaurant piece hereQuick note about the pink wines pictuted above; I was not able to include the one on the far left in the piece because it’s too limited production, but it is a delicious Syrah pét-nat rosé from Early Mountain Vineyards in Virginia–super lively and fresh, with wonderful fruit notes, completely dry, and something I hope they make more of, so you can all enjoy it!

Written from the Athens airport, en route to Santorini. But more on that soon.

I sincerely hope you have some good rosé around to get you through this shitty news cycle! My god. I need about ten bottles.

Support Raisin, The World’s Only Natural Wine App

Raisin is an app that supports the natural wine community by alerting wine lovers to places they can find organic, biodynamic, low-sulfite wines made on a small scale, all around the world. It’s a simple concept, meant to help make natural wine more transparent and approachable for everyday people who might be new to the idea of such wine. Essentially, the app helps you find a retailer or restaurant that features natural wines on at least 30 percent of their menu. And for anyone who loves natural wine and has had the experience of wandering around a foreign city, trying in vain to find a glass of something acceptable to drink, Raisin is going to come in handy.

Although Raisin launched last year, it’s now seeking crowdfunding in order to deliver an android version with some more sophisticated features. I urge you to support this project if you can. I have met one of the founders and I’ve seen the beautiful Raisin posters proudly on display in winemakers’ offices all around Europe. It’s a project that could be a great bolster to the natural wine community in a general sense.

Find out more about Raisin and support their campaign, here. As of now, 35 days are left to fund, but if you like the project it’s better to put your money down now, rather than later–it will encourage future donations. And if you’re new to my blog, and want to know more about natural wine, see my primer for Esquire magazine, here

And let’s all raise a glass to the great majority of France rejecting racism and anti-cosmopolitanism. That’s really something to celebrate.

Bubbles & Eggs at Egg Shop Nolita, March 15th

bubbles-and-eggs-flyerIn our culture, bubbly wines are too often reserved for special occasions or celebrations. But I strongly believe that, first of all, every day should be celebrated just a little bit, and definitely with delicious wine and food–and secondly, sparkling wines can be handcrafted, terroir-expressive wines with incredible flavor and personality. Bubbly is also fun because it comes in so many different forms–pét-nat, true Champagne and methode champenoise, off-dry, etc–and it’s so light and fresh and delicious.

On March 15th, for one night only, I’m pairing up with chef Nick Korbee at Egg Shop in Nolita, for a special 5-course meal featuring exceptional sparkling wines, with dishes paired to go with them. (Yes, we chose the wines first, and then decided on the dishes!) It’s going to be a lot of fun–the perfect mid-week, and mid-March, pick-up–and I’d love to see you there. Tickets can be purchased via this EventBrite link; there are two seatings but space is very limited, so act quickly. If you’re the kind of person who likes to dine solo (like me!), you’ll enjoy the spots at the bar, and you can high five me as I run around the restaurant like a crazy person with magnums of Gamay rosé. Oh, and there will be a special welcome cocktail, too, courtesy of Boukman Rhum. See you there on the 15th!

Missed Out On Noma? That’s OK, We Got All The Hygge At Home

dessert at Agern, in New York City
dessert at Agern, in New York City

So, Noma’s original location has finally closed. If you’re like me, and have never had the extra cash to fly over to Copenhagen for one of these elusive reservations, Noma is meaningful mostly because of its wide span of influence around the globe. (If you aren’t well-versed in Redzepi and his influence, check out my review of the 2015 documentary about Noma, The Perfect Storm.)

Here in the U.S., young chefs who have staged at Noma–or one of Copenhagen’s similarly styled newer restaurants like Relae or Amass–are flexing their New Nordic muscles at their own restaurants, around the country. Until I can get myself over to Scandinavia for some hang time with Réné Redzepi and a glimpse of the Northern Lights (or to the Noma pop-up in Mexico?!?), I’m content to experience the cuisine and culture at any of these wonderful spots. I wrote about some aspects of New Nordic dining, and mentioned a couple places to try it, for Vogue.com–check it out hereWith love and hygge, from me.

 

Of Grain Bowls, Chopsticks, Hidden Gems, and L.A.

rice-bar-langanitsa
the longganisa sausage at Rice Bar, photo mine

For a New Yorker, visiting L.A. conjures up cultural references from Woody Allen films, visions of Hollywood galas, and clichés about grain bowls at sidewalk cafés. Well, the latter, at least, rings one hundred percent true in my recent experience–but the grain bowls these days are not so plain, as I found out during a culinary journey through L.A.

During these few days in the city of angels, I experienced some meals that I can only describe as moving–and some of these were at hole-in-the-wall spots where no dish cost more than $10. The meals were moving not because of extravagance, but because they originated from a deeply personal source, connected to the chefs’ families or home countries, or a journey abroad. But on top of the personal layer, there was also technical prowess, and powerful creativity.

Find my story here about the tiny, hidden-away, new wave of chef-driven Asian restaurants in L.A. Thanks for reading!

Just Another Excuse To Write About Paris

au-passage-paris-2016I am desperately in love with the city of Paris. If I could do really anything in my life, I would move there to write a novel, and I don’t care at all if that sounds like a cliché. To substantiate it a bit, I do think that France right now is a really interesting place, but the reasons for that aren’t exactly positive: the country as a whole is in a difficult moment, with extremely heightened racial tensions and the constant threat of terrorism on the heels of severe attacks. I have wanted to live in Paris ever since I was 20, and while the romance of the city may have been part of that desire and still is, along with its incredible culinary scene, the complicated nature of that country appeals to the writer in me. And maybe I’m just a nostalgic sap, like everybody else who read A Movable Feast after high school and dreamt of being a poor writer in Paris, ideally minus the poor part.

Well, I’m not sure how I got onto such a serious note, because the point of this blog post was to share my latest Vogue.com article, on the vibrant nighttime scene at Paris’ little neo-bistros. These restaurants are helmed by young and talented chefs and sommeliers, and they have incredible atmosphere. Each time I go to Paris, I manage to try one or two new places, and I fall more and more in love with the city’s dining culture.

Read the article here. And thank you for putting up with my eternal bohemian disposition (it drove my mother crazy for eighteen years). But it persists: the other day, I pulled out the novel I finished in 2014 while I was waiting tables at Reynard–the job that led me to fall in love with wine–and I found myself wondering when I would be ready for my second attempt. And what the setting would be, for me to write it.