You'd think, considering the fact I live a total of three blocks away from City Winery, that I'd be a regular by now. Yet, every time I've jaunted over to the spacious spot, I've been rejected. Meaning, they were holding private concerts and no ticket? No entry. Needless to say, I was thrilled to discover that the tasting would be held there--in the winery, no less. And, yes, there is a real, live, functioning winery (note the picture below) with a French winemaker, playing with different grape varietals from all over the world. In the meantime, you can guarnatee I'll be overeager and slightly fidgety until I get the chance to race back and taste through a couple of those.
Albarino is an interesting grape; hailing from the coast of Spain. And if you're not familiar with the varietal, might I suggest you make it a priority to seek out the next time you're at the wine store. Tish mentioned, "This [Albarino] is a story about acidity." This is true. He used the example of how you can't cook without lemon or vinegar. They're the "zing." This is also incredibly true. More often than not, when you're cooking and go for a taste and it needs that little something to perk it up, to add a freshness, a vibrancy, you grab a lemon. Add some zest. Throw a dash of balsamic in. It will help. It always helps. Albarino, by means of acidity, can thus be a dish's BFF.
Montauk Fluke Tartar on Spiced Taro Chips was served with Laxas Albarino 2009. Honeydew and key lime pie on the nose and then BAM. The acidity hits you, slashing your tongue, making you salivate. And that tartar? Well, my tasting notes consisted of : YES!!!!! So that's that.
Chilled Curry Corn Soup with Rock Shrimp and Pickled Ramps was served with Condes de Albarei Albarino 2009. This soup was the finest and most beautiful example of finesse and sensuality. Seductively creamy. Exotically spiced. And the wine played nice. The wine played real nice.
Serrano Ham Wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese and Saba was served with Paco & Lola Albarino 2008. These little savory candied bundles made the entire room erupt with applause. Nicely done, Harold.WR Tish discussing the wine and food pairings with Chef Harold Dieterle
Grilled Chicken Satay with Chili Jam got paired up with Brandal Albarino 2008. Edamame Falafel with Lemon-Tahini Sauce was served with Pazo de Senorans Albarino 2009. Chilled Calamari Salad with Spanish Olives and Grilled Bread was matched with Santiago Ruiz Albarnio 2009.
And you, young man. Talk about boyish charm. I was beaming like an idiot every time I got to exchange a few words with him but it was really because I'm always so humbled to be in the presence of someone so passionately engaged in his craft (no joke, it gets me all choked up). And it seems silly, but one of the marks of a great chef or cook, is the ability to season appropriately. To be able to taste something and know exactly what (and how much) it needs. Each delectable little bite we were presented was spot-on. Perfectly seasoned and incredibly thoughtful. The room was bursting with smiles.
Tish (formerly of Wine Enthusiast) comically and informatively led the evening with his charm and vast knowledge and engaged every single person in that room, personally. I urge you to read his blog and check in to see when his next tasting will be. Because if last night was any indication, you can be sure I'll be attending as many events as my schedule permits. Priorities are priorities. And this, this is a priority.