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1000 Stories Wines: An Evening With Bob Blue And Red Wines

On a typical rainy Spring evening in New York, I was ushered to the back of Fine & Rare restaurant at 9 East 37th Street, to a grand table and intimately introduced to a wonderful collaboration of wine and spirit for the palette in the form of 1000 Stories Wines. On any night, a lot can be found nestled in the little nooks and crannies of the city streets. Delightful little eateries with locally-sourced specials, goodnight kisses had under the awnings of Old-World high-rises and the little peeks of west and eastside sky-line pushing their way through the dusky fog.

It was on such an evening in classic New York fashion that I found myself tucked behind a beautifully arranged table for sixteen at the wonderfully hidden restaurant.  The restaurant can usually be found offering up cool live jazz-infused acoustics to go with your pappardelle Bolognese and burrata heirloom tomato salad.

1000 Stories is a line of exquisite and well-executed wines that distinguish themselves from the lot as they are aged in whiskey barrels.  The fineness of the grape meets the distilled beauty of the whiskey in 1000 Stories Wines and creates broad flavor profiles that pull from the diversity of the loveliness of Zinfandel and Bordeaux grapes and merges them with the lingering and definitive essences of oaky, sweet and herbal whiskey.

On that evening, winemaker and co-founder of 1000 Stories Wines, Bob Blue gave a verbal soft-sell of how the brand came to be and then walked us through an exclusive tasting of the brand’s renowned line-up together with one of its latest, The Prospector’s Proof.

We started the pre-dinner tasting with a 2016 Zinfandel Batch 42, a peppery full rounded fruity wine then moved onto 2016 Zinfandel Batch 52, a wine sourced from grapes all over the Californian Redwood and Sanel Valleys that carried a welcomed depth that grapes from this Mendocino Region are recognized for. Then onto 2016 Zinfandel Batch 54 which was smoother yet carried a delightfully weighted depth while being soft and satisfying on the palette.  The 2017 Gold Rush Red was strong and full-bodied with its mélange of intense and bold grapes from the California Hills.

Finishing off the bunch was 2017 The Prospectors Proof Cabernet Sauvignon, another bold wine with the spiced pop of vanilla and fragrant herbs from the whiskey barrels. With each wine, it was important to note the presence of the grape characteristics and the presence of the whiskey attributes working together. With the lesser-bodied wines, the sharp higher tannin zinfandels in their various aged stages allowed hints of the whiskey notes to carry through more while the Gold Rush and Prospector’s Proof carried weights that created a harmonious intermingling of full flavor. Altogether, it was an evening of wine lessons that, when combined with better wine understandings, left us all with our favorites and a greater appreciation for brands like 1000 Stories Wines; brands that have found a way to make a wonderful staple even better. It was a delectable evening filled with continuous delights. We’ll end with some of the decadent desserts we enjoyed.

New Victoria Chef Collection: A Complete Gourmet Pasta Meal

Raise your hand if there are days when you don’t feel like spending more than 10 minutes in the kitchen cooking dinner, or if your lunch hour has somehow gone down to minutes. Every so often we will mutter “there’s just not enough time in the day” to ourselves or out loud and many times, our meal is what ends up being suffering. What if you could enjoy a homemade meal even though your time may be limited? Thanks to the new Victoria Chef Collection, you can enjoy a complete gourmet pasta meal in minutes.

As you can see, we’re not talking about those instant mac and cheese snacks that pass themselves off as an actual meal, this heat and serve pasta option is a full, well-balanced meal. With the Victoria Chef Collection, you will enjoy a wholesome, heat and serve meal solution – with the satisfaction of a homemade meal, without all the time.

The Victoria Chef Collection brings traditional Italian elegance to your table in under two minutes, whether you’ll be enjoying it for lunch or dinner. Available in two pasta sauce options (hoping more will be launching very soon), Penne Marinara and  Penne alla Vodka, all you have to do to enjoy is just heat and serve.

The Penne Marinara is simplicity at its best, combining penne pasta with premium, slow-cooked marinara sauce. The Penne alla Vodka is a decadent classic, it also combines penne pasta with rich, creamy vodka sauce. Both are made with antioxidant-rich 100% whole plum tomatoes, real cheese, fresh onions, fresh basil, and fresh garlic. Victoria Fine Foods has been committed to ingredients come first since day one, which is why they put them on the front of their label as part of their #ReadYourLabel movement.

Could the new Victoria Chef Collection help make lunch or dinner preparation easier for you?

 

Restaurant Review: Calle Dao Chinese-Cuban Restaurant

A Journey through the Unique Fusion of Cuban and Chinese Cuisine 

Hello fellow NYC foodies and fusion food enthusiasts, there’s a new restaurant we’d like to introduce you to. Nestled in the vibrant location in Chelsea, NYC, is Calle Dao, the second location of the popular midtown foodie haven which offers a fusion of Chinese-Cuban cuisine. Calle Dao is the brainchild of Restaurateur Marco Britti who follows the Bryant Park location of this critics’ favorite and highly popular dining destination with the Chelsea opening. The name Calle Dão, a mix of Cuban and Mandarin, is a nod to Havana’s Chinatown, where Britti first discovered this unique culture and cuisine.

We had the pleasure of experiencing the delicious combination of the two cultures in a multi-course sit-down dinner, which included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, entrees, and dessert. While we couldn’t sample everything, we enjoyed the dishes that we tried. Our journey began with cocktails; four intoxicating concoctions handcrafted by Mixologist Joy Daniels (pictured below).

Calle Dão Handcrafted Cocktails

From left to right, the evening’s cocktails included:

  1. Macau – made with aged rum, fresh lime juice, and a sweet spiced syrup (demerara sugar, star anise, ginger, vanilla bean, black peppercorn, Chinese cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peels). A great balanced drink – not too sweet, tart, or spicy.
  2. Revolucion! – made with habanero infused tequila, ginger liqueur, absinthe, sweet corn kernels, pineapple, agave, and lemon. (**This was our favorite cocktail, it’s sweetness paired wonderfully with the savory passed hors d’oeuvres we enjoyed).
  3. MaxVer – made with gin, elderflower liqueur, white peach, shiso leaves, agave, and lime. If you’re looking for a cocktail that’s not at all sweet, this is the one for you.
  4. Flor de Oro – made with vodka, rose and vanilla infused dry vermouth, cherry jam, and fresh lemon juice. This was my least favorite and the only one I didn’t finish (mainly because I’m not really a fan of Vermouth).

Calle Dão Cuisine – Passed Hors D’oeuvres

The menu’s next offerings were a delight to our palate. Thanks to Chef Bradley Warner, we enjoyed some very exquisite hors d’oeuvres including Oxtail Croquettas with mango chutney and saffron aioli, Cuban Sandwich Spring Rolls, Double fried crispy plantains, and Duck Empanadas

We highly recommend that you treat yourself to all three dishes as they are superb, rich in flavor, perfectly seasoned, and the ingredient combinations…….amazing. The Oxtail Croquettas boasts a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth meat interior and a crispy exterior. If you love Cuban Sandwiches, you’ll love this bite-size version, and you will never go wrong if you order the empanadas. We were then seated to enjoy almost everything on the restaurant’s menu.

Calle Dão Cuisine – Appetizers and Entrees

We were in for a night adventurous delights (featured in order in the slideshow below):

  1. Ma-Po Maduros spicy pork, Sichuan peppercorns, toban-djan, and scallions
  2. Double fried crispy plantains
  3. Crispy Pig’s Ear with cilantro and sesame chili
  4. Charred Octopus in Mojo Verde with Chorizo Oil, Capers, Pimeton, and Olives
  5. Crispy Whole Fish marinated in Mojo Rojo
  6. Smoked short Rib & Chinese broccoli over classic la meìn noodles which predate ramen
  7. Spiced Goat Neck braised in House Spice Blend with Cilantro and Baby Bok Choy
  8. 14-Hour Char Sui Pork marinated and glazed Pork Tenderloin with plum onion escabeche and puré de batata
  9. Peking Style Roast Chicken over yellow Arroz Amarillo with chorizo
  10. Pato Frito Sour Orange Glazed Duck over fried rice with sunny side up egg.

We had several dish favorites from the dining experience. We approached this foodie journey with an open mind knew not every dish was going to be a hit with us. While some at our table weren’t so open, we left the restaurant quite satisfied with the entire experience. Our favorite entrees included the Crispy Whole Fish, Crispy Pig’s Ear, 14-Hour Char Sui Pork, and the Pato Frito Sour Orange Glazed Duck. The fish was exquisite. If you’ve never experienced freshly caught fish being cleaned and cooked right on the beach, this dish is the closest to it. We didn’t think we would really enjoy the Crispy Pig’s Ear but this was delicious. I loved the texture and lightness of it…..sort of like a very elevated pork rinds. We definitely enjoyed nibbling on these ears. The pork and duck were sublime. Both of the meats were succulent and were favorites of many at our table. Almost favorites included the Charred Octopus, which I wish has more of a crunchy texture; the Spiced Goat Neck I wished had a bit more kick to it; and while the Peking Style Roast Chicken itself was flavorful, the flavor of the rice was tame by comparison.

Calle Dao Desserts

At the time of our final course, we were so full but we tried to sample each of the following desserts. Crafted by pastry chef, Kate Holowchik (winner of the 2015 Vitamix Challenge dessert competition), the decadent Calle Dao desserts we enjoyed include:

  1. Matcha Tres Leches with chocolate crumb, chocolate sesame tuile, and mango coulis. As a fan of matcha, we loved this Asian incarnation of Tres Leches. The cake was moist and we loved the combination of the matcha and mango coulis.
  2. Chocolate Arroz Con Leche with ginger gelato, cashew sesame crumb, sweet sesame wontons, passion fruit caramel. Chocolate, passion fruit, and ginger superbly excite your taste buds.
  3. Bunuelos with Chinese five spice sugar, chocolate coconut sauce. Another favorite of ours, the sauce was rich and accented the Bunuelos nicely but we admit, we also dipped it in the pineapple jam.
  4. Coconut Rum Flan with pineapple jam, passion fruit caramel, and crispy rice noodles. We’ve never been a fan of flan but we do like this tropical version.

The wonderful cuisine plating won’t be the only feast for the eyes. Passionate about art, culture, and heritage, Britti (pictured below) has added many finishing touches to Calle Dao to ensure real flavor in the interior as well as the food.

Taking inspiration from traditional Cuban colors, the walls are adorned with vintage Chinese smoking adverts with Cuban touches throughout. A rare last edition of Cuba’s only Spanish and Chinese written Newspaper, Kwong Wah Po, hangs on the wall to welcome all who walks through the door. You will also find authentic cigar boxes decorating the rafters, as well as Cuban cigars at the hostess table. One decoration that also stood out was the giant Call Dao logo (a Chinese Chef’s knife) made up of several very real Chinese Chef’s knives.

We invite you to check out this Chinese-Cuban food fusion for yourself. We are looking forward to experiencing Calle Dao Chinese-Cuban Restaurant again soon.

Calle Dao Chelsea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato