Main Line Restaurant WeekFrom Monday, September 16 – Sunday, September 22, 2019, the second annual Main Line Restaurant Week will showcase food and drink from more than 35 local restaurants.

Villanova University has partnered with the Bryn Mawr Business Association, the Wayne Business Association, and Main Line Today magazine to sponsor this second annual event.

Participating restaurants will offer a prix-fixe menu, specials, or a percentage discount to any patron who dines out throughout the week.

“We are looking forward to building on last year’s success and continuing to showcase all of the great restaurants we have right here in our backyards,” said Laura Wagoner, Assistant Director of Government & Community Relations at Villanova. “The partnership with these organizations shows how strong the Main Line community is through their overwhelming support for these local businesses.”

For an up-to-date list of participating restaurants and specials, please visit the restaurant week website here: https://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/government-relations/restaurantweek.html.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Seasons 52 KOP - BarFrom Tuesday, September 17 – Monday, November 18, 2019, Seasons 52 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, will be hosting a food and wine event featuring a special three-course menu priced at $29.95 and one wine flight priced at $25.00 per person.

Three-Course Menu

 Choice of Soup or Salad: Tomato Cheddar…Daily Soup… Romaine and Kale Caesar… Field Greens Salad

Choice of Entrée: Kona-Crusted Prime Rib, Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms, Brandy Cream Sauce… Mediterranean-Style Braised Lamb, Mint Couscous, Fig-Pistachio Pesto… Brick Oven-Roasted Wild Cod, Cauliflower & Chickpeas, Salsa Verde, Lime Butter

Choice of Mini-Indulgence: Pumpkin Pie… Caramel Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

 

A Wine Flight through the Caymus Family of Vineyards: The Root & Vine wine flight was chosen to not only complement this particular menu, but also many of the restaurant’s fall dishes. These three autumn selections are from the Wagners, a Napa Valley winemaking family since the 1950s.

Sea Sun by Caymus “Tri-County,” Chardonnay, 2017: Pairs with fish and chicken, light or rich dishes

Conundrum, Proprietary Red Blend, 2017: A smooth texture that goes well with the Mediterranean-style lamb

Caymus, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2017: Lush berry flavors that make a perfect match with steak.

For more information about the Root & Vine event, or to make reservations, please call Seasons 52, King of Prussia, PA, (610) 992-1152.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Pluckemin Inn - Robert Biale Wine DinnerOn Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 7:00 p.m., the Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster, New Jersey, will host a special dinner paired with the extraordinary vintages of Robert Biale Vineyards of Napa, California. The special guest of the evening will be Dave Pramuk, co-founder of Robert Biale Vineyards.

Amuse: Tempura Tomato… Corn Vichyssoise… Pickled Ramps; Wine Pairing: Sparkling Wine

 First Course: Black Bass, Chanterelle, Fennel, Peppers, Tomato Broth; Wine Pairing: Zinfandel “Black Chicken” Robert Biale 2017

Second Course: Quail, Risotto, Pancetta, Balsamic, Parmesan; Wine Pairing: Zinfandel “R.W. Moore Vineyard” Robert Biale 2017

 Third Course: Angus Sirloin, Potato Boulangère, Baby Carrot, Tomato, Cipollini; Wine Pairing: Zinfandel “Stagecoach” Robert Biale 2017

Cheese: Valley Shepherd Creamery; Wine Pairing: Petit Sirah “Royal Punishers” Robert Biale 2017

The price of the Robert Biale Vineyards wine dinner is $150.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 658-9292.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Chakra InteriorChakra, one of Bergen County’s top restaurants, is scheduled to close its doors. Thomas Ciszak, chef/partner of Chakra, announced that the restaurant will close after dinner service on Saturday, August 31st.

For 15 years – and under Chef Ciszak’s direction since 2010 – Chakra has been a soaring, sexy destination for groundbreaking cocktails, sushi, and his trademark eclectic Modern American cuisine.

“With a heavy heart, I thank my Chakra team members for many years od dedication to great food and genuine hospitality. Chakra couldn’t have been as successful without them,” notes Chef Ciszak. “I also thank all our guests for their loyal patronage over the years. With so many great choices, I’m honored they consistently choose Chakra as their dining destination.”

Chef Ciszak’s next project is the launch of Brasserie Mémère in the Closter Plaza shopping center. His wife Evelyn Ciszak and partner Michael Chin will run the daily operations there. Mémère will feature well-priced everyday French fare, along with cocktails, beer and wine. The Ciszaks want to make this classic, rustic cuisine more accessible by delivering a simply, authentic dining experience. French for “granny,” Mémère is named in honor of Chef Diszak’s grandmother, who first inspired him to cook.

Brasserie Mémère is slated to open in October at 107 Vervalen Street, Closter, NJ.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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DeMorgenzon Winery -GroundsThe wineries of South Africa are the most beautiful in the world… and there are many who believe that DeMorgenzon is the most beautiful of them all. Indeed, the first glimpse of this impressive Stellenbosch estate never fails to solicit countless oohs and aahs from visitors, its vineyards ranging from 200-400 meters on the slopes of the mighty Ribbokkop Mountain. DeMorgenzon which means “the morning sun,” takes its name from the first Afrikaans settlers, who aptly named this part of the Stellenbosch region because it basks in the first rays of sunshine over the valley.

Vines were planted here in the 18th century. Yet, despite the historic lineage Demorgenzon is very much the new kid on the block. In 2003, the estate was purchased by businesswoman Wendy Appelbaum. A former deputy chairman of an investment group dedicated solely to women, Ms. Appelbaum, in collaboration with her husband, Hylton, has channeled her considerable business experience into quickly transforming DeMorgenzon from an unknown entity into a first-class wine producer. Equipment has been replaced and upgraded, vines have been replanted, and an incredible amount of time and resources have been invested into propelling DeMorgenzon into one of the world’s premier wine estates.

DeMorgenzon Winery - MusicToday, DeMorgenzon is not only celebrated for its majestic beauty, but also, thanks to winemaker Carl van der Merwe’s incredible skill, for crafting some of South Africa’s most exciting and original wines. By the way, this is the winery that pipes Baroque music through the vineyard 24-hours a day, as Hylton Appelbaum claims that it aids the ripening process. Be that as it may, there is no denying the inherent quality and complexity of the estate’s wines. And it is the DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc that has captured the attention of critics and connoisseurs alike. Crafted from old Chenin Blanc vines in the finest terroirs across the mountain, it is arguably the Cape’s most significant wine offering to the world. The 2016 vintage, for example, which was released in the summer of 2017, received a whopping 93-points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and is available from various sources around the $39.00 mark.

Other DeMorgenzon wines I have previously recommended include the 2016 Reserve Chardonnay, which received 94-points from the Wine Advocate and retails around $31.00; and, my personal favorite, the 2014 “Maestro.” The “Maestro” is an intriguing blend of 26% Roussanne, 25% Chardonnay, 19% Grenache Blanc, 17% Chenin Blanc, and 13% Viognier. This was originally purchased through Pennsylvania State Stores for $24.99 and is also still available for about the same price online.

Just recently, however, I stumbled upon two additional vintages from this excellent producer. Both available through Pennsylvania State Stores… both priced at a mere $14.99 per bottle… and both highly recommended.

DeMorgenzon Winery- DMZ Syrah 2016DeMorgenzon DMZ Syrah 2016: This Syrah was manually harvested and destalked into stainless steel fermentation tanks. Natural fermentation followed, with a slight extended maceration on the skins to stabilize the color and give the wine more palate length. Following fermentation, the wine was pressed off the skins and malolactic (second) fermentation was completed in barrel. The wine spent an additional 12 months in small French oak barrels, fourdré barrels (a large wooden vat, significantly larger than typical oak barrels, often with a capacity to hold more than a thousand liters of wine), and cement tanks.

The result is a wine with a deep purple core and rich nose characterized by ripe berry fruit. On the palate, the fruit is blended with a hint of spice and integrated oak. While the alcohol level is a hefty fourteen percent, the wine still remains smooth and refined on the palate. This is a beautifully balanced Syrah that combines Old World fruit and elegance with New World freshness and drinkability. A superb effort at an equally superb price point.

Demorgenzon Winery- DMZ Chard 2017DeMorgenzon DMZ Chardonnay 2017: The fruit for DMZ Chardonnay is selected from premium trellised parcels in South Africa’s Stellenbosch district at elevations of 100 to 200 meters above sea level. The cooling effects of the close proximity to the ocean, as well as the weathered granite and sandstone soils of the Stellenbosch, all contribute to the wine’s elegance, minerality, and fresh citrus character.

Each vineyard parcel was fermented separately, using a combination of natural yeast and careful inoculation. Of the harvested grapes, 25% were left as whole bunch and 75% were lightly crushed and the juice allowed to settle overnight. The wine was aged on its lees in a combination of stainless steel and French oak barrels. Malolactic (second) fermentation was allowed to commence naturally in the barrel-fermented portions. After 8 months, the various parcels are blended and then aged for an additional 3 months before being stabilized, lightly filtered, and bottled.

Notwithstanding the heady 14% alcohol, this wine is extremely light on its feet. “A bright and bouncy style,” as the Wine Spectator describes it, bestowing 90-points. Delicate oak flavors are rich and full on the palate with a touch of refreshing citrus on the finish. An excellent Chard at a terrific price point.

DMZ is DeMorgenzon’s value label, where the objective is to produce classic, elegant, well-balanced wines that overdeliver in terms of quality for price. For my money, the estate has more than delivered on its promise.

Cheers!

TAD

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Marchesi Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2017Several weeks ago, I received an email advertising the 2017 Marchesi Antinori Cervaro della Sala, a high-profile Italian white that had recently received a whopping 99 points (100-point scale) from wine critic James Suckling. The asking price? A mere $49.98.

The 2017 is a highly unusual wine, a blend of 88% Chardonnay and 12% Grechetto, a white wine grape varietal with Greek origins. Planted throughout central Italy, particularly in the Umbria region, Grechetto is used to add citrus and dried nut characters to wines with which it is blended.

This wine is also unique in its crafting. The Chardonnay undergoes primary and malolactic fermentation in French barriques for several months; it is then transferred into stainless steel and paired with the Grechetto before bottling. In other words, the wine is barrel-fermented but not barrel-aged.

Mr. Suckling was effusive: “This is big and powerful, without being ripe and heavy. So much apple, stone, and hints of toffee. Aromatic. Full-bodied, layered and framed with phenolic tension and a great finish. Muscular and agile at the same time One of the best I have tasted. Drink or hold. 99 points.

Naturally, I was interested. I’ve always been partial to Italian wines; and I’ve always felt that Italian whites had received short shrift from critics and the wine drinking public alike… Plus, I was curious to see how this particular Italian white– so highly rated – would measure up… Truth be told, I was even more interested in the 2016 Marchesi Antinori Cervaro della Sala, upon which Mr. Suckling bestowed a not insignificant 97 points, describing it as “the Batard-Montrachet (a highly-regarded – and expensive – French white Burgundy) of Italy.” That really piqued my interest.

… So, I purchased a bottle of each; and, one afternoon, my dining partner and I set them up for a side-by-side tasting. The results, I confess, were a little surprising. We both found the lower rated 2016 (97pointer) to be superior to its more highly-rated sibling. The nose was rife with vanilla and spice. On the palate, the wine was quite elegant with subtle hints of oak. The 2017 (99-pointer), on the other hand, as Mr. Sucking noted, had power to spare, but also opened up significantly over the course of time.

While my dining partner and I concurred in our preference for the finesse of the 2016 over the sheer power of the 2017, we were also very much in agreement that both wines had been significantly overrated. Mr. Suckling, in my experience, has apparently parked himself at the high end of the oenological Richter scale and tends to remain there… I would characterize the two wines in question as “good” in overall quality (my dining partner, however, would disagree) but certainly not “great” or “exceptional” by any stretch of the imagination. And when less than exceptional wines receive exceptional scores – the aforementioned 99 and 97 points, respectively, for example – then there is obviously something amiss with the either the methodology or the wine critic… or both.

The bottom line for me is simple: Having sampled both of the above, would I be willing to purchase half a case or a case of either to cellar away for future quaffing? And the answer is a definitive “No.” There are just too many other wines out there, in my opinion, that have infinitely more to offer.

Cheers!

TAD

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La Fava Restaurant & Bar

1102 Baltimore Pike, #101

Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

(484) 840-8603

https://lafavaglenmills.com

La Fava - InteriorHidden away in a small shopping center on Route 1 North, La Fava made its debut in February 2019. And, judging by the crowds I’ve witnessed recently at both lunch and dinner, its Italian Mediterranean fusion cuisine has made quite a splash on the local dining scene. The menu, which draws upon Italian, Greek, Spanish, and Provençal influences, is just broad enough to appeal to a wide range of palates, just focused enough to prevent its culinary reach from exceeding its grasp… And, as you quickly notice, this isn’t your typical bill-of-fare.

La Fava - Pollo RosmarinoThe closest you’ll come to the usual suspects is undoubtedly the Chicken Parmigiana; although, the beautifully fried chicken cutlet topped with melted mozzarella cheese and sided by spaghetti has its own unique charm. But of infinitely more interest, in my opinion, is the Pollo Rosmarino (pictured). The semi-boneless free-range chicken is perfectly roasted, irresistibly moist and succulent, and spruced up with rosemary, loads of Castelvetrano olives, and a splash of white wine. A word about the olives… They hail from Castelvetrano, Sicily, and are produced from the nocerella del belice olive variety. They have a Kermit-green hue, meaty, buttery flesh, and a decidedly mild flavor. They are tender and crisp, almost fruit-like, and their subtle taste and texture will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of this lovingly prepared dish.

La Fava - Salmone Salsa VerdeSeafood selections offer diners a number of impressive permutations. The Caciucco Toscano, for example, is an invigorating take on cioppino, a stew incorporating mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, and fish fillet in a tasty tomato garlic broth. The Monkfish Ossobuco is presented with crawfish on a bed of sun-dried tomato risotto with a sprinkling of fresh dill and splash of anisette. Then there’s the deliciously photogenic Salmone Salsa Verde (pictured). A crispy skinned filet is set on an island of well-seasoned barley and surrounded by a sea of sweet pea purée.

La Fava - Angus Beef BurgerMeaty matters continue the kitchen’s stimulating take on menu staples. Filleto di Maiale embellishes pork tenderloin with cannellini bean purée, root vegetables, and a seductive sherry thyme jus… while Vitello e Gamberi teams sautéed veal scallopini with shrimp & crawfish in a heady brandy reduction. Even the Angus Beef Burger (pictured) gets the royal treatment with a winning combo of caramelized onion, spicy apple jam, smoked mozzarella, and a tiara of crispy pancetta. And for those with more straightforward appetites, there’s always the Butcher’s Market, the chef’s cut of the day.

La Fava - Tagliatelle w scallops, spinach, tomatoesThe pasta dishes divide their time between classic and innovative presentations. For those who prefer more traditional fare, choices include items such as the Fusilli al Forno with meatballs, San Marzano tomatoes, fontina, and Pecorino Romano and the ever-popular Rigatoni Norma with tender fried eggplant, basil, a rustic tomato sauce, and ricotta salata. For the more adventurous of palate, the Spaghetti Tirreno – a combo of mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, cherry tomatoes, and white wine saffron broth – should fill the bill quite nicely… ditto Gnocchi Boscaiola, forest mushrooms, mild sausage, and lemon ricotta tinctured with thyme. The table favorite, however, proved to be the special Tagliatelle (pictured) awash with scallops, spinach, and tomatoes swimming in a white wine infused broth.

On the other hand, the Roasted Vegetable Lasagna offers diners a bit of both worlds. While it resembles your standard lasagna awash with San Marzano tomato sauce, the magic lies just below the surface in a winning combo of squash, spinach, and a host of root vegetables. But the pièce de résistance is a decadently rich béchamel sauce, which makes an extraordinarily delicious stand-in for the business-as-usual ricotta.

La Fava - Fritto MistoAntipasti run the gamut – from char-grilled Spanish octopus & salmon carpaccio to Tre Formaggi & Tre Salumi, the chef’s daily selection of three artisanal cheeses and three cured meats, respectively – and, like the entrées, add a few interesting twists and turns to more familiar starters.  The Garden Tempura teams up crisp vegetable chips with tzatziki and sweet pepper dipping sauces. And the not-to-be-missed Fritto Misto (pictured) presents a winning combo of delicately deep-fried calamari, shrimp, and zucchini sticks with a seductive pickled pepper aioli.

La Fava - Poached Pear SaladThe salads here make excellent starters as well. The House Caesar, for example, is accented with shaved Grana Padano, crunchy focaccia crostini, and a beguiling dressing that offers up just the subtlest hint of anchovy. For a more innovative take on greenery, the Dyno Kale Salad incorporates cucumber, sour apple, crispy chickpeas, golden raisins, goat cheese, and a dill-honey lime vinaigrette. But even better, in my opinion, is the Poached Pear Salad (pictured). Here you have an interesting gathering of field greens, strawberries, toasted almonds, and an absolutely irresistible limoncello dressing.

La Fava - Apple TartDesserts, which tend to be more straightforward than either the appetizers or entrées, are well worth considering. There are, of course, the ubiquitous Cannoli and Tiramisu, as well as more upscale choices like the Lemon & Chocolate Capri Cake and Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake. For something light and refreshing, the tangy Lemon Sorbetto can’t be beat… but if you’re prefer a bit more razzle-dazzle, Bananas Foster can be prepared tableside. If, however, the sublimely simple Apple Tarte (pictured) happens to put in a guest appearance as a daily special, don’t hesitate to snatch it up.

La Fava also sports an impressive list of signature cocktails, as well as a number of interesting wines by the glass, including a light & lively Mandrarossa Fiano from Sicily and a smooth and supple “Chronicon” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo courtesy of Zaccagnini. Upon request, there is also a select list of wines available by the bottle.

Note: Since the completion of this review, the restaurant has installed sound absorbing acoustic panels, which significantly cut down on the noise level in the bustling dining room.

 Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Stage Left Steak - InteriorOn Thursday evening, September 5, 2019, Stage Left Steak in New Brunswick, New Jersey, will host a walk-around wine tasting and wine dinner featuring the extraordinary Cabernets and Chardonnays of White Rock Vineyards of Napa, California.

Hors d’Oeuvres & Tasting: Chardonnay “Reserve” 2016… Cabernet Sauvignon “Laureate” 2014… Cabernet Sauvignon “Laureate” 2009

Lobster & Black Truffle Manicotti: Chardonnay 2016

Duck Pastrami on Rye Toast: White Rock “Claret” 2016

Wagyu Beef Tasting – Flatiron Steak, Cheese Steak, Beef Tartare: Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

A Tasting of the Honeys of Mario Bianco (the best Flora-Specific, Vintage Honey in Europe): Acacia Blossom 2017… Chestnut Blossom 2017… Cherry Blossom 2018… Eucalyptus 2016… Dandelion 2016; Served with Goat Cheese, Nuts, Apples, and Vanilla Ice Cream

Walk-Around Tasting 6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Dinner at 7:00 p.m.

The price of the White Rock Vineyards Tasting and Wine Dinner is $199.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 828-4444.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Estia Radnor - Interior 1From Thursday, August 22 – Thursday, September 5, 2019, Estia Philadelphia and Estia Taverna in Radnor, PA, and Marlton, NJ, will be celebrating the end of summer with a special three-course prix-fixe menu priced at $35.00 per person.

 Appetizer (Choice of) – Tuna Carpaccio: Diced Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Crispy Capers, Shallots, Arugula, Extra Virgin Olive Oil… Santorini Salata: Mixed Spring Greens, Cherry Tomatoes, Grapes, Fennel, Toasted Almonds, Crispy Kefalograviera, Honey Lime Vinaigrette… Chilean Sea Bass Souvlaki: Charcoal Grilled with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

 Entrée (Choice of) – Lobster Linguini: Fresh Main Lobster sautéed with Cherry Tomatoes and Linguini in a Brandy Infused Tomato Sauced topped with Grated Feta and Fresh Basil… Lamb Chops: Marinated in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon and Herbs, Charcoal Grilled, Roasted Potatoes, Tzatziki… Pan-Seared Halibut: “Spetsiota” with Red, Yellow and Green Peppers, Vidalia Onions, Capers, Roasted Vine Ripened Tomato Sauce… Organic Chicken: Roasted Leg and Breast, Caramelized Onion and Yogurt Orzo Lemon Thyme Jus

 Dessert (Choice of) – Baklava Rolls: Walnuts and Pistachios rolled in House-Made Phyllo, Caramel Drizzle, Vanilla Gelato… Poached Peach: Champagne Reduction, Greek Yogurt, Candied Almonds

As noted above, the cost of the end of summer menu is $35.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call your preferred Estia Restaurant.

 Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Nicholas - Jersey Tomato Tasting MenuFrom Tuesday, August 27 – Saturday, August 31, 2019, Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will be serving a special menu featuring fabulous Jersey tomatoes in every course.

Amuse: Charred Tomato Bisque, Basil Oil

First Course: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Hand-Pulled Mozzarella, Aged White Balsamic Vinegar

Second Course: Goat Cheese Ricotta Raviolini, Beefsteak Tomato Jam, Basil Blossoms

Third Course: Pan Seared Barnegat Light Scallops, Spirit of New Jersey Bloody Mary

Fourth Course: Grilled Pink Shrimp, Chilled Jersey Tomato Gazpacho, Avocado Lime Purée

Dessert Amuse: Brandywine Tomato Sorbet

Dessert Course: Olive Oil Quesos Cerron, Tomato Preserve

The price of the special Jersey tomato tasting menu, which will be served in the dining room only, is $85.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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