Wines of the Times: A Complex Red With an Austrian Accent
In this week’s Wines of the Times, Asimov writes of “umlaut,” a very intimating word (2 dots) that is intended to communicate a particular pronunciation of the vowel it tops. Consumers generally choose a Pinot Grigio when they encounter THE UMLAUT (dum, dum, dum). Asimov then goes on to compliment the blaufrankisch grape (also with an umlaut on top of the a). It is grown mostly in Austria, where it makes a spicy red that can be graceful and intense at the same time. It can be tangy and refreshing too . In Germany it’s called Lemberger (without an umlaut). Even five years ago blaufrankisch wines were not easy to find in the United States. Consumers were stuck with wines that had a lot of oakiness to them. Times are a changin’ and Asimov goes on to say that just a few years ago he did a tasting of the blaufrankisch wines that have been made with great care, from grapes of cooler sites and with more restraint in the cellar. Asimov, along with his panel of tasters, were thrilled with their most recent blaufrankisch tasting. They found that they enjoyed a lot! Their favorites being beautifully balanced, with smoky, spicy fruit flavors, winning textures, and a rippling acidity that made them seem juicy, savory, and refreshing. They enjoyed the lighter bodied wines that they tried as well as the heavier, denser, and richer wines. Why such a difference in body you ask? The soil changes dramatically in these different parts of Austria/Germany yielding to different styles.
There are quite a lot of pricey benefits this week and also interactive activities with children. This doesn’t really fit our needs, so I chose the few that looked doable for our Gabby group!
Tastes of Mexico A celebration of Mexican cuisine with food stations by the chef and restaurateur Julian Medina, along with beer, margaritas and mariachi music, is set for Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. at the Garden at Studio Square, 35-33 36th Street (35th Avenue), Long Island City, Queens. Tickets are $60 in advance from studiosquarenyc.com, $65 at the door; and children 12 and under are $25.
At Queens Restaurants Queens Restaurant Week, with scores of restaurants participating and offering specially priced menus, will run from Monday to Sept. 22, and Sept. 26 to 29. For information on participants. This could be a great opportunity to meet some more people in Queens. Go for it!: queensny.org.
BARREL ROOM A new feature at City Winery is a 30-seat dining room for well-garnished Mediterranean dishes to go with 11 wines on tap plus the rest of the extensive list. I’ve always been a huge fan of City Winery, especially the big stage! One night I even went to see a friend’s Burlesque show with a large group of people. I find this to be one of their biggest strengths- their large seating capacity!: City Winery, 155 Varick Street (Van Dam Street); (212) 608-0555.
BIG GAY ICE CREAM SHOP Ice creams made in house, plus Melt’s sandwiches, La Newyorkina’s paletas and Oslo Coffee, are featured; and the truck still rolls: 125 East Seventh Street (First Avenue); (212) 533-9333.
BUTTER LANE The East Village cupcake bakery has opened a branch with more than two dozen varieties. Hands down this is better than Magnolias. I used to get the icing shots. I believe they’re 2 dollars for an amazing icing shot if you’re not so into the “cake” part of the cupcake. If I recall correctly, my favorite flavor is maple: 240 Seventh Avenue (Fourth Street), Park Slope, Brooklyn; (718) 369-0466.
CAFE CHINA Yiming Wang and her husband, Xian Zhang, have had no restaurant experience, but they have an ambitious vision of what they want to offer. “We haven’t seen a really great Chinese restaurant here,” Ms. Wang said. Mr. Zhang is from Shanghai but opted for a Sichuan chef, Xiao Feng Liao. His menu has ma po tofu, tea-smoked duck, Chungking braised beef and kung pao fish, as well as beef tendon, cold duck tongue, braised duck blood, frog legs, tripe and conch. The décor is simple, but many small touches evoke Shanghai of the 1930s: 13 East 37th Street; (212) 213-2810.
DOS TOROS This is the third location for this hot little taco chain: 1111 Lexington Avenue (77th Street).
EARL OF SANDWICH This is the first New York outpost of an English chain with 13 hot sandwiches to go, all $5.99:1290 Avenue of the Americas (52nd Street); (212) 247-9246.
IL TESORO RISTORANTE With some twists on Italian classics, like duck leg braciole, A. J. Black, who owns a restaurant of the same name on Sanibel Island in Florida, moves into what was the location of Primavera for more than 30 years. (Friday): 1578 First Avenue (82nd Street); (212) 861-9620.
LA ESQUINA TAQUERIA Another part of this complex has 10 tacos, including veal tongue and vegetarian options, and a garden. LOL, this place is going to take over the city!: 225 Wythe Avenue (North Third Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn; (718) 393-5500.
LEXINGTON BRASS Brasserie-style defines much of hotel dining in Midtown, and this latest fits the pattern. ATTENTION REPS: Who’s on this?!: Hyatt 48Lex, 517 Lexington Avenue (48th Street); (212) 392-5976.
MACHIAVELLI The Italian Renaissance is firmly in place at this elaborately decorated trattoria. Murals inspired by “The Battle of San Romano” by Paolo Uccello, a Florentine painter, cover the walls, giving Sandro Chia’s Palio murals in the bar at Piano Due a run for their money. The décor notwithstanding, the restaurant will have a fairly classic northern Italian menu. “This is a neighborhood place after all, so we have to have normal food,” said Nathalie de La Fontaine, the owner, who used to own La Focaccia in Greenwich Village. (Friday): 519 Columbus Avenue (85th Street); (212) 724-2658.
MEXICUE A second storefront and another truck have been added:106 Forsyth Street (Broome Street); (646) 559-4100.
PAN AMERICAN A fire that gutted two floors above resulted in a massive rebuilding job for this restaurant. But now it’s off to a fresh start, with tropically accented décor and a new chef, Harry Stoehr, from DB Bistro Moderne, devising pan-Latin food with a nod to north of the border. Deconstructed gazpacho; beef tenderloin with chimichurri; duck with roasted vegetables and amaranth; and spice rubbed fish are featured:202 Mott Street (Prince Street);(212) 925-9225.
THE SAINT AUSTERE Jacqueline Pirolo and her brothers have communal tables for beer, wine and boldly seasoned, tapas-style food. Tapas style could be a great place to bring some of our wine!: 613 Grand Street (Lorimer Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn; (718) 388-0012.
SALUMÈ This very Italian panini shop in SoHo has spun off a kiosk, with a menu of unpressed sandwiches that’s more limited but cheaper: Broadway Plaza, Times Square at 45th Street; no phone.
STK OUT This casual outpost of STK in the meatpacking district serves sandwiches, salads, milkshakes, beer and wine: Grace Plaza, 1114 Avenue of the Americas (43rd Street); (646) 624-2433.
SUNBURNT CALF BROOKLYN The Aussies open another branch, this one with more Asian fare. (Friday): 611 Vanderbilt Avenue (Bergen Street), Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; no phone yet.
TABATA RAMEN Noodles, rice dishes and a steaming open kitchen with a good-size counter and tables is a welcome addition to the dining scene in the West 30s: 540 Ninth Avenue (39th Street); (212) 290-7691.
THE TIPPLER Under the Chelsea Market, 3,000 square feet of brick-walled space with sturdy columns have been turned into a bar with a 40-foot marble counter. Paul Tanguy and Tad Carducci, bar consultants called the Tippling Brothers, are two of four partners. (Friday): 75 Ninth Avenue (15th Street); (212) 206-0000.
VAI Vincent Chirico has relocated his little Upper West Side Italian place to a more gracious space. Guillaume already has this!: 429 Amsterdam Avenue (81st Street); (212) 362-4500.
THE VAULT AT PFAFF’S For all its underground speakeasy feel, this tailored, brick-walled subterranean bar is more venerable than Prohibition, having opened about 150 years ago in the former beer cellars of Charles Pfaff. Food comes from the Corner Shop Cafe directly above it, via dumbwaiter. This sounds sooo cool! I love speakeasy style places. I hope someone opens this account ASAP: 643 Broadway (Bleecker Street); (212) 253-5421.