Bastille Day

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July 26, 2011 4 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

San Francisco: The “Anti” Bastille Day Party

"Anti" Bastille Day Party. Photo credit: Patricia Chang Photography.

And so it was… the “Anti” Bastille Day Party.

On the 14th of July, after celebrating the birth of America America’s independence for 10 straight days of pure unadulterated red, white and blue joy, the official “period” of this week(+) binge found itself at the end of an evening celebrating the French more America.

In collaboration with San Francisco supper club, the Stag Dining Group the Noble Rot hosted the “Anti” Bastille Party. Why? Because last year we hosted a “Pro” Bastille Day Party, and frankly, it was much more fun to drink California wines this time around. Not that I don’t love the French, because I’ve spent my share of breezy summer afternoons strolling along the Seine, but because I love the French so much I couldn’t bare the thought of acting like them on their high holy day. Instead… the Stags and I devised a hell of an evening that caught the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle (<article).

Girard "Artistry" Bordeaux Blend. Photo Credit: Patricia Chang Photography

“Anti” was mean to be taken lightly – in jest – and the real theme was in no way against the French, it was simply a reinterpretation of them. And so we served “Bordeaux” blends and “Meritage” blends from two delectably notable California-Americano wineries: Girard Winery and Cosentino Winery. The lovely French-sounding, assistant winemaker from Girard, Jacqueline Bahue (no relation to the French), joined us for the evening to impart a sense of vino-nationalistic pride and legitimacy. Sporting a fashionable dress she was the most charming assistant winemaker a Self-Appointed Master Sommelier could ask for. She worked the crowd like a pro and was full of wonderful bits of Girard and Cosentino history.

Jacqueline Bahue, Assistant Winemaker, Girard. Photo courtesy of Girard and Cosentino Winery.

A cocktail hour curated by The Cocktail Lab (Timothy Zohn and Anne Sauer) went ahead and impressed the hell out of everyone. The spirit at hand was an American-craft distilled whiskey dubbed “Double & Twisted Moonlight Whiskey” made from … already bottled IPA. You should’ve been there to experience this fine, fine, fine clear whiskey from Master Distiller Marko Karakasevi from Domain Charbay. There was nothing to be said; the sighs of pleasure permeated as the cocktail hour made way for socialist activity and dissenters, some singing Francophilic songs, reveling in the glory and honor of the after-feeling of one of the best cocktails they ever tasted.

Le Rêve Américain (The American Dream)
by Anne Sauer and Timothy Zohn of Cocktail Lab

1 1/4 oz Charbay Doubled and Twisted Moon Light Whiskey
3/4 oz Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth
1/2 oz homemade peach gastrique*
Dash St. George Absinthe
5 fresh mint leaves
Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients with ice and shake vigorously. Double-strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

The courses, all traditional French cuisine with “American Flare” and the wine pairings looked like this:

Liberty Bites (Horss D’ouvres)
Fried Anchovy Stuffed Olives
Brie Whiz ‘n’ Crackers

Main

Freedom Frog & Snail Corndogs w/ Herb-Garlic Mustard |
Cosentino “The Novelist” White Meritage 2008

Pulled “BBQ” Duck Confit, Macaroni Salad, Cornbread
Cosentino “The Poet” Red Meritage 2005

UN-French Onion Soup Dumplings, Gruyere, Chervil |
Cosentino “The Poet” Red Meritage 2006

Yankee Goose Liver (Foie Gras) Cheesesteak, Pickled Shishito Peppers, Blue Box Chips
Girard “Artistry” Bordeaux Blend 2007

Patriot Doughnuts (Beignets), Peanut Butter, Banana, Bacon
Girard “Artistry” Bordeaux Blend 2008

At the sound of a gong, the next wine was introduced followed by a food course to pair. The evening’s guests were ravaged with patriotic delight and in true American-fashion resisted the threat of education! Sadly for them, they still fell prey to factual information and in the end knowledge was indeed imparted. We learned how to pronounce “Meritage” (Merit-IH-dge) and how to taste wine in the proper fashion (pinky out). Debates broke out concerning which American cigarettes paired best with the selected wines and Americano-inspired dishes.

True excitement was had by all in that we experienced a “vertical” tasting (winespeak for: same wine, different vintages). The taste profiles of the ’05 and 06 “The Poet” was palpable! The ’06 seemed a distant cousin to the ’05, showing brighter fruit and silkier tannins. The Girard ’07 was rounder with a succulent mouth-feel counterpart to the tougher, younger tannins of the ’08. What a great experience. And as a little surprise in the end, we uncorked this incredible wine.

The Noble Rot + Stag Dining Group = America2.0 (Left to right: Jordan Grosser, Jonny Cigar (Noble Rot), Emory Al-Imam, Matthew Homyak, Ted Fleury, Anil Margsahayam) Photo Credit: Patricia Chang Photography.

And Look: in the end, everyone threw a Bastille Day party, okay? Everyone. For crying out loud. But. But? But! No one did what we did (and I’m referring of course to the after-party, the details of which, I canna’ discl’se).

I have to extend a supremely sturdy and gruff handshake, round of applause, the raising of many glasses to Stag Dining Group. These Stags run a tight ship and the experience is truly memorable. Chef Jordan Grosser and Ted Fleury are superbly talented cuisinists. Matthew Homyak, Anil Margsahayam and Emry Al-Imam are the best front-of-house friends a wino could have. Truly Stag. I salute you – thanks a million Stags over! Let us all pick up our American rifles and rifle the belly of the whale.

Wine, I say! More wine.

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July 14, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Revolution is Nigh! Bastille Day/Bastchille Day

Quite the display of Military Prowess (seen here in Le Monde) as the French storm parade around the Arc de Triumph in memory of the Storming of the Bastille.

Burgundy and Bordeaux residents will open their finest wines. Feasting and festivities will overtake the cityscapes and countryscapes of France today.

Here in America, we too, Francophiles that we are, will celebrate the storming of the Bastille. However, not in the way you might expect:

Tonight, the Stag Dining Group and my wine empire, The Noble Rot, will host the “Anti” Bastille Day Party. Not to be confused with negative sentiments, instead, we’ll be pouring “Bordeaux” blends and Meritage wines from our dear state of California – the epicenter of wine production the U.S. Guests at tonight’s soiree will storm the bar for a cocktail whipped up by SF’s Cocktail Lab that mixes in an American whiskey: Double & Twisted by Marko the Genius Distiller of Domain Charbay. And there’s more… so check back in tomorrow to see what we came up with as we do what the French would never do… on Bastille Day.

SEE: what The Noble Rot did last year for Bastille Day.

READ: what the famed and elemental Trav S.D. said about Jonny Cigar and his performance at our event exactly one year ago today.

July 15, 2010 2 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

And we stormed the Bastille alright…

And We Stormed The Bastille Alright…

Noble Rot does Bastille Day (with Peter Sellers) at ORSAY Restaurant - photo by Brian Quinn

Ladies and Gentlemen of the vine:

On this, the day after Bastille Day, the year of the wine bottle 2010, I bring to you descriptions of an evening reminiscent of that fine day in French histoire whence the Revolutionaries stormed the Bastille in 1789 (only three years ago!).

The Noble Rot first uncorked in July 2009 when Brian Quinn and I decided to become wine experts. For our one-year anniversary extravaganza we wanted to return to our roots and present delicious wines that retail for just $20 bangers and under. And the best way to do that, we assumed, was to try out what we dubbed “French Vacation Wines.”

It’s July and so all of France is vacationing in Saint Tropez, Le Mont Saint Michel, La Rochelle, Montpellier, Biarritz, and Villefranche sur Mer, and Cap Ferret – to name a few of the most beautiful beach towns in the south of yee old France. These French people are consuming billions of gallons of crude oil rosé and are baking basking in the sun. We wanted our Noble Rotten crowd to enjoy the same benefits. And so we offered them an evening of utter wine and cocktails and food implosion (while Dr. Strangelove played silently on a projector with French Subtitles).

Before I list the wines, I want to divulge to you good wino, the entertainers for the evening: annihilating the Noble Revolutionaries with words, words, words in French, French, French, like “Lingerie!” and “Baguette!” was the famed TRAV SD. Trav is an actor, author, journalist, impresario, I-mean-you-name-it, wildly hilarious, avant-gaurded genius. He has a blog, which I am very impressed by, as it is maintained pretty much every day. It is here. And if you are a person interested in theater and the history of vaudeville, don’t be a fool, get his book: No Applause: Just Throw Money.

The elusive Trav SD in bowler hat flinging French words at the crowd - photo by Nora Leah Sherman

As for the musical aspect of the eve, Les Chauds Lapins, presented French songs of the ’20s – ’40s, “an epoch when American jazz and swing was being absorbed into the witty, passionate, highly melodic tradition of French popular music” – quote from their site. They were: Kurt & Meg on the banjo-uke, Ian on Bass, and Karen on Viola. As one Francophile to the next, I can assure you that they were hands down, the best damn music act I’ve heard since I first heard Django Rheinhardt. I mean – wow! Banjo-ukes!! A phenomenal frenchy-sound, got the crowd feeling damn good and damn French, had a terrific sense of humor and I couldn’t recommend their CD enough. Or don’t take my word but listen for yourself as they’ll be at Barbes in Brooklyn on August 13.

Les Chauds Lapins - photo by Nora Leah Sherman

Now for the wines!

But before the wines, cocktails!!

Mayur Subbarao, of EVOE! (and Mayhuel and Dram), a brilliant mixologist begat our evening with a cocktail and ended the evening with a cocktail. He used bourbons and gins and Armagnac and Lillet – Mayur whipped up Twentieth Century’s for people as well as what he dubbed a “brandy crusta variant” with the Armagnac and Lillet aka the “Paris-Midi.” WOW. Perfectly executed, I ended up the evening myself with a Lillet bottle full of left over batch and thrilled taste-buds. Assisting Mayur was the ever-brilliant food-photographer Nora Leah Sherman. And we have to thank Nicole Cloutier for our Lillet and for the Armagnac, May Matta-Aliah.

Mayur Subbaroa of EVOE! and faithful Noble Rotter Paul Fawell - photo by Nora Leah Sherman

So, ahem, the wine:

  • Patrick Lesec Costierre de Nimes Vieilles Vignes – ($17 per bottle)

Twentieth Century Cocktail
1 1/4 oz gin
3/4 oz Lillet Blonde
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz creme de cacao

Shake, strain, serve up with lemon twist

Paris-Midi
1 oz Laubade VSOP armagnac
1 oz Lillet Rouge
1 barspoon each lemon juice, orange curacao, maraschino

Stir, strain, serve up with one ice cube

Les Vins - photo by Brian Quinn

Damian Gutierrez of Cabriniwines.com and Matt Franco of Rare Wines Limited (new store opening in the West Village soon!) were on-hand to lend validity to my and Brian Quinn’s nonsense. There you have it. My favorite was the Vignelaure. It smelled of first dates and the excitement of exchanging phone numbers with the woman you will eventually marry. Second in line was the Picpoul – this is a wine I have discovered recently and consider my staple French summer drink. The taste is easy on the palate, crisp like a Lays potato chip, dazzling like sea-shine reflecting off a remarkable sunset. The Lesec was a brit, if you catch my drift. And the Jaillance was exactly that: Imperiale!

The event would not have been possible without the gracious staff at Orsay, and their food, which was exceptional! Passed foods for the evening included: Gougères (choux pastry with cheese specialty from the Burgundy region), Tuna Tartare on toast, Chicken pretzel (chicken breast), Croque monsieur (grilled ham and Swiss cheese mini sandwich), Vegetable roll, Pork Rillettes (preparation of pork similar to pâte spread on white bread from the Tours region). Many thanks to Jean-Pierre and Melanie at Orsay – they were the best of hosts, and I encourage you to visit Orsay for an enchanted evening of delectable French-cuisine that will honestly knock your french socks off. Orsay Restaurant is at 75th & Lexington Ave in Manhattan.

Finally, our good friends, Nick Gray, Sean O’Hagan, Jeremy Welch, and Zach “the shark” Bernstein made the evening possible by pouring wine, passing food, and being knowledgeable in the place of my ignorance (I was busy tasting!). Please enjoy these delicious photos in no particular order, and hopefully dear wine-stewards, we will see you at a Noble Rot event soon.

Quinn Parisian and Nora Parisian - photo by Nora Leah Sherman's camera

Orsay Vegetable Rolls - photo by Nora Leah Sherman

Cheese course! Courtesy Louis of Orsay - photo by Nora Leah Sherman

Lila reads about the Revolutionaries storming the Bastille! - photo by Nora Leah Sherman

Zach "the shark" Bernstien, Cigar, and guest expert Matt Franco (going to pour the hell out of those bottles!) - photo by Nora Leah Sherman

Happy Birthday Emilee! (No better place to be for your b-day than with The Noble Rot) - photo by Brian Quinn

Jonny Cigar, self appointed Master Sommelier with Les Chauds Lapins at The Copa 1967 Happy Birthday Emilee! (No better place to be for your b-day than with The Noble Rot) - photo by Brian Quinn

Cigar, Spain (Damian G), Quinn - photo by Brian Quinn