If you’ve suffered through my cooking, you know there’s certainly no meal coming from my kitchen that’s worthy of a special bottle of wine. In fact, drinking something quickly is your best method of defense.
I tend to hoard long-held vintages or the Brunello procured on a magical vacation for an event where corkage is appropriate or find that rare BYOB restaurant of a certain caliber. Occasionally, I miss a drinkability window and I curse my principals and wish I’d just opened that bottle with a takeout turkey burger.
Having the luxury of endless access to Long Island wine, they make weekly appearances on my table. But why should the wonderful wines of the North Fork suffer through my less-than-stellar short ribs just because I can’t find them proper play dates? So when I heard that Racines NY, a charmingly modern bistro in Tribeca, initiated BYOB Mondays, I packed up my Greenport Mills & Co. Canvas wine bag with some local favorites and trucked downtown.
Why is this significant? It’s not really other than to prove that some of my Nofo favorites caan and should hold their own with the finest of cuisine.
Completely unpretentious, Racines NY presents itself in a flurry of brick walls, black fixtures and miniature vineyard photos in minimal frames. The simplistic décor is reminiscent of the new, sparsely adorned wine bars and restaurants in Paris (Spring, Roseval than of our wide spread common Francophile translation of dark bistros or over the top dining rooms. This one-room restaurant doesn’t compete for attention, instead it creates a backdrop for patrons to dine and casually enjoy wine. A lot of wine.
I paired the 2010 Lieb Family Cellars Blanc De Blanc with their Steel Head Trout Appetizer. The sparkling pinot blanc peddled along side the grapefruit in the dish before washing over the palate in a wave of tiny bubbles and green apples. The richness of the Trout Roe and crisp Kohlrabi kept the acid in check to create pitch perfect harmony. It doesn’t take a genius to pick a sparkling wine to mingle with a mostly raw fish preparation, but it doesn’t make it taste any less fabulous.
Some people think they don’t like chardonnay as a whole until they’ve busted into someone’s Burgundy stash. Like pastries and making smoking look cool in 2015, no one does this grape like the French. So when we’re talking Long Island Chard, I’m particular. There were three I enjoyed this year, the most interesting of them: Southold Farm & Cellars 2013 Devil’s Advocate. Its faintly funky presence — I would attribute to gewürztraminer if I didn’t know better — was a perfect foil for Sautéed Escargots with a fluffy garlic potato and Saffron Spud Croquette (or a Cromesqui is the cool kids are calling it.) A watercress puree oddly enough is what brought out the best in this wine. The herbal quality called out to the lemon freshness on the top Snails and Musque Clones. BFFs.
Fregola Sarda Risotto. Round. Carby. With a snap to it. Basically what I’d be if I were food. We added the Black Truffle Supplement for $20 bucks. Which was exactly what these cute little seminola balls needed. It didn’t suck with the McCall Vineyards Reserve Merlot 2010 either. Fruit forward like merlot’s traditional California cousins, this wine was delicate and fluttered across the tongue leaving a wake of spicy, blackberry and tobacco. Layering Black Truffles over the Juice of Cutchogue felt almost Burgundian. Which felt right in a French place.
Big guns for the lamb.
I love my red wines with a good measure of acidity and Anthony Nappa’s Dodici 2012 fits the bill. One of my favorite reds from the North Fork said a little hello in the glass before bursting into lush Michigan cherries, violets and a brightness that rolled right over the Confit Lamb Shoulder. (Looks pretty ugly meatloafy in this photo, but was rich and spicy and comforting.) The Dodici was the most food-friendly of the bunch and I would take that bottle anywhere.
I brought Macari Block E to rock out with our dessert. But I was so full I skipped it. And brought my bottle home to live another day.
These North Fork wines were right at home with the major guns on Racines NY menu and I think any patron would fall in love if they had the opportunity to order Long Island wines.
There’s nothing revolutionary about my trip downtown, it’s a total ‘duh’ statement that well made wines go with well made food. But so often I find, we talk about tasting notes and the wine making process and miss out on chatting about the enjoyment of said wine. And I’d like to see more opportunities for locally sourced food to roll with local wines. Easy for restaurants to keep the sanctity of the style of aFrench, Italian, or whatever restaurant, to find bottles reminiscent of the native style. After my visit…and a two top with so many bottles, I’m sure the staff enjoyed the bonus wine. And might just add my favorites to the list.