Washington House Basking Ridge - St. Patrick's DayWashington House, 55 South Finely Avenue, Basking Ridge, New Jersey, will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for the entire weekend leading up to Tuesday, March 17th.

Irish specialties will include…

To Drink – Irish Mule: Jameson Irish Whiskey, Ginger Beer, Lime Juice, $14

To Eat – Stout Cheese Soup: Parsley Croutons, Cup $6; Bowl $9… Green Apple & Grape Salad: Organic Baby Arugula, Spicy Cashews, Gorgonzola Cheese, Kiwi Citrus Vinaigrette, $17… Corn Beef Sliders: Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese Russian Dressing, French Fries, $17… Bangers & Mash: Crispy Fried Onions, Demi Wine Sauce, $19… Sautéed Chicken Breast & Linguine: Asparagus, Pesto Cream Sauce, $25… Corned Beef & Cabbage Platter: Boiled Red Bliss Potatoes, Braised Cabbage, Side Grainy Mustard & Rye Bread… White Chocolate Avocado Mousse Cake: Bailey’s Mint Caramel Sauce, $12

For more information about the St. Patrick’s Day specials, or to make reservations, please call (908) 766-7610.

Bon Appétit!



Nicholas - Trimbach Wine DinnerFor three centuries, across 13 generations, the Trimbach family has produced wines that are structured, long-lived, fruity, elegant, and beautifully balanced. The family personally looks after each operation, from planting to harvests and from vinification to bottling.

Maison Trimbach’s vineyards are all situated around the picturesque village of Ribeauville in Alsace in the northeast corner of France. The region is bordered on the west by the Vosges Mountains and on the east by the Rhine River, which separates it from Germany. The region’s shared history between France and Germany has created a unique approach to the styles of Alsatian wines and cuisine. Trimbach’s vineyards benefit from the unique Alsatian microclimate, which, thanks to the Vosges Mountains, protects the plain from rain.

I know that I have mentioned Trimbach wines on several previous occasions; and I have absolutely no problem confessing that they are among my favorite vintages. And part of my enthusiasm is based on the fact that bottles remain in their cellar for several years before reaching the marketplace, ensuring that the wines are both ready to drink upon release and also hold great aging potential.

The wines I am noting today are quite special, for they are Reserves. The designation Reserve is often found on US wine labels… Unfortunately, the term has no legal definition in this country, which means it cannot be relied upon to have any special significance or to indicate particularly high quality. In fact, it is often used simply as a marketing ploy. Trimbach Reserves, on the other hand, are the result of a rigorous selection process from old vines in Ribeauville and the surrounding villages, producing wines that are more complex with longer aging potential.

Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 20152015 Trimbach Reserve Pinot Gris: This wine is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel and concrete vats. There is no secondary malolactic fermentation in order to maintain as much natural acidity as possible.

In the glass, the color is bright pale gold with a fresh but restrained nose that hints of ripe pear. On the palate, the wine is bone-dry with subtle nuances of tropical fruit and an intriguingly nutty finish. And, unlike Italian Pinot Grigios, the Trimbach Reserve is full-bodied and sports a good deal of heft with 14% alcohol. This wine recently received 94 points (100-point scale) from the Wine Enthusiast magazine, describing it as “utterly elegant.

Decidedly food-friendly, the 2015 Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve is perfect as an aperitif or with fish, poultry and lighter pastas. Priced at $22.99 in Pennsylvania State stores, a few dollars less online.


Trimbach Pinot Noir Reserve 20162016 Trimbach Reserve Pinot Noir: The grapes are harvested in late September/early October and undergo a gentle pneumatic pressing followed by an 8-day cold maceration to extract color and fruit. Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stainless steel. The Pinot Noirs are the only Trimbach wines that undergo malolactic fermentation and they are bottled after 3 months aging in stainless steel tanks.

The wine is light to medium garnet in color with aromas of red currant and hint of licorice. If you’re accustomed to the silky-smooth generosity of California Pinot Noirs, your first sip of this wine may strike you as somewhat austere. Despite its rather taut style, however, this is a wine that softens in the glass and captivates you with its juiciness and subtle undertones of red fruit.

Recently receiving a 91-point rating from Wine Enthusiast magazine, the 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir is a personal favorite and especially recommended for those who enjoy a slightly different take on this finicky varietal. Because of its light & lush body and crisp, refreshing acidity, the 2016 pairs well with sausages, smoked meats, and a variety of cheeses… And given the wine’s overall quality, its $22.99 price tag is also quite a bargain.




Frog and Peach4On St. Patrick’s Day, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Frog and the Peach, 29 Dennis Street at Hiram Square, New Brunswick, New Jersey, will host their inaugural potato tasting menu…

Slow Poached Qual Egg: Shoestring Potato “Nest,” Pickled Vegetables, Buttermilk-Truffle Vinaigrette

Roasted Hasselback Potato: Beet-Whipped Goat Cheese, Carrot Top Pesto

Red Potato Crusted Cod: Rosemary Potato Consommé, Mushroom Powder

House Brined Corned Beef Brisket: Potatoes Colcannon, Whole Grain Mustard

Chocolate Potato Truffle: Potato Ice Cream

The potato tasting menu is priced at $52.00 per person; an additional $35.00 per person with beverage pairing (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 846-3216.

Bon Appétit!



Louette's - InteriorOn Monday, March 9, 2020, beginning at 5:30 p.m., Louette’s BYO, 106 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, will feature a special collaboration between Chef Pierre Calmels of Philadelphia’s famed Bibou Restaurant, and Chef Steven Howells of Louette’s BYO. The duo will present a six-course menu celebrating the season’s freshest ingredients available.


First Course: Yellow Fin Tuna Crudo, Lime Agrodolce, Asian Pear, Habañero, Sorrel

Second Course: Escargot Brochette, Fava Bean Purée Mushrooms, Bordelaise Emulsion

Third Course: Sumac Poached Sablefish, Lacto-Fermented Fennel, MaCauley Stuffolks Lamb Sausage, Oregano

Fourth Course: Seared Foie Gras, Carrots Three Ways

Fifth Course: Squab Duo, Crispy Skin Breast & Confit Leg Schnitzel, Duck Fat Potato Purée, Cardoons, Blood Orange

Dessert: Hot Violet Souffle, Goat’s Milk Crème Anglaise, Coconut Macaroons

The price of this special dinner is $100.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (484) 924-9906. Louette’s is a BYOB. restaurant.

Bon Appétit!



La Fava - InteriorOn Thursday, March 12, 2020, 7:00 p.m., La Fava Restaurant & Bar in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, will be hosting a five-course Burgundy wine dinner presented by Dave D’Amore of Kobrand Wine & Spirits.

First Course: Crab & Avocado Napoleon, Basil Citrus Dressing; Wine Pairing: Jadot Steel Chardonnay, 2017

Second Course: Tapenade Crusted Cod Fish, Confit Fennel, Tomato Concassé, Sauce Vierge; Wine Pairing: Jadot Beaujolais, 2018

Third Course: Roasted Quail, Smoked Mushroom & Aged Parmigiano Polenta, Thyme Jus; Wine Pairing: Jadot Bourgogne Jacobins Rouge, 2017

Fourth Course: Braised Short Rib, Gratin D’Auphinois, Haricot Vert, Burgundy Wine Reduction; Wine Pairing: Jadot Bourgogne Chapitre, 2015

Fifth Course: Tarte Fine Aux Poires, Warm Pear Tarte, Belle de Brillet Pear Cognac Infused Gelato

The price of the Burgundy wine dinner is $95.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (484) 840-8603

Bon Appétit!



Davio's King of Prussia, PAOn Thursday, March 12, 2020, 6:00 p.m., Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse, 200 Main Street, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, will host a special five-course dinner featuring the iconic wines of Orin Swift Cellars of St. Helena, California.

Benvenuto: Wellfleet Oyster, Caviar, Meyer Lemon… Crispy Flint Hill Cheese Bites, Smoked Paprika, Herb Aioli… Chilled Wild Jumbo Shrimp, Louis Dressing; Wine Pairing: 2017 Blank Stare, Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley

Antipasto: Octopus, Fingerling Potatoes, Pickled Tomatoes, Olive Tapenade; Wine Pairing: 2017 Mannequin Chardonnay, California

Farinaceo: Hand-Rolled Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Ubriaco, Duck Confit; Wine Pairing: 2017 Slander Pinot Noir, California

Carne del Giorno: Brandt Beef Prime Eye of Rib Eye, Exotic Mushrooms, Black Garlic Chimichurri; Wine Pairing: 2017 Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France, Napa Valley

Dolce: Chocolate Decadence, Machete Ganache, Plum Confit Assorted Truffles; Wine Pairing: 2017 Machete Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache Blend, California

The price of the Orin Swift wine dinner is $125.00 per guest (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please visit: www.davios.com/kop.

Bon Appétit!



Stage Left3Mike Januik, former winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle, acquires the best grapes Washington State’s Columbia Valley has to offer; and his small production winery achieves wines of great finesse and balance. Mike’s son Andrew is part of the family business and started his own label in 2011, making high quality California Cabernet Sauvignon.

On, Thursday, February 27, 2020, at Stage Left Steak in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Andrew will host a dinner with several of his family’s excellent wines, including an older vintage of Cabernet from the excellent Champoux Vineyard.

Tasting with Hors d’Oeuvres, 6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.: Bacchus Vineyard Riesling 2017… Lady Hawk Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Horse Heaven Hills… Weinbau Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2017… Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah 2016… Chamkpoux Vineyard Malbec 2016

Dinner, 7:00 p.m.

 Crab Cake: Deconstructed; Wine Pairing: Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay 2017

Pork Belly: Smoked and Seared; Wine Pairing: Columbia Valley Merlot 2015

Duck Leg: Grilled and Confit Blackberry and Thyme; Wine Pairings: Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016… Stone Cairn Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Red Mountain 2016

Lamb Shank: Braised with White Beans and Mint; Wine Pairings: Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016… Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Bourbon Pecan Pie: Bourbon Creme Fraiche

The cost of the special wine tasting & dinner with Andrew Januik is $159.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 828-4444.

Bon Appétit!



IMG_0846My travel companion and I just returned from a glorious two weeks in South Africa. We spent five days of wine tastings in the estates in the Western Cape Province before embarking on a 10-day Azamara cruise of ports on the east coast of South Africa. Noted below are a number of the wines we sampled, the great majority of which are readily available from various sources to be enjoyed in the United States. Pictured above: Conroy Gabriel, our guide, driver, and friend for five wonderful days of wine tasting (he did the driving, we did the tasting 😊).

Anthonij Rupert Wines - ExteriorOur first port-of-call was the Anthonij Rupert Wine Estate, which is based in Franschhoek but also owns properties in several South African wine regions. The company was founded by Anthonij, son of billionaire Anton Rupert, on the L’Ormarins farm in Franschhoek, located against the dramatic backdrop of the Groot Drakenstein Mountains. In 1998 Anthonij Rupert also acquired the Rooderust estate in Darling with around 300 acres under vine. When Anthonij died in 2001, the estate was taken over by his brother, Johann, and the company was given its present name. The estate’s portfolio is now comprised of five ranges headed by the flagship Anthonij Rupert range of reds from Bordeaux varieties and Syrah.

Anthonij Rupert Wines - Optima 2015Of the six wines tasted, two red wines were absolute standouts…The 2015 vintage is internationally regarded as one of South Africa’s finest to date; and if there’s one wine that illustrates this fact, it is Anthonij Rupert’s Optima 2015. This fabulous Bordeaux blend is comprised of 40% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were hand-picked in the early morning and then hand-sorted in the cellar. After cold-soaking, fermentation started and lasted for approximately 20 days. Malolactic fermentation took place in new 225-litre French oak barrels and 10,000-litre oak tanks. The components were made and aged separately for 18-months in 225-litre French oak barrels (35% new) after which the wines were blended and aged for another 6-months in barrel and tank and bottle-matured for a further 24-months before release. After tasting this wine, I immediately decided to have six bottles shipped from South Africa… Yes, it’s that good. The 2015 Optima is priced around the $29.00 mark and is available online through Canal’s Bottle Shop in Marlton, NJ.

The Anthonij Rupert Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 was also tasted and is highly recommended. Unfortunately, the 2014 is not available… What is available, however, is the highly-rated 2012 vintage. This is a heady, old-fashioned Cabernet with plenty of power, yet it remains suave and seductive on the palate. It may be purchased from several sources online for around $60.00. Definitely worth seeking out.


IMG_0859DeMorgenzon Winery: The wineries of South Africa are the most beautiful in the world… and there are many who believe, this writer among them, that DeMorgenzon is the most beautiful of them all. Indeed, my very first glimpse of this Stellenbosch estate, with vineyards ranging from 200-400 meters on the slopes of the mighty Ribbokkop Mountain, did not fail to impress. 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 chair 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 Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017Today, 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. 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. During my recent trip, I sampled the 2018 Chenin Blanc and it was nothing short of spectacular. And while this vintage is not yet available in the United States, the DeMorgenzon 2017 Chenin Blanc, which is every bit the equal of the 2018, may be purchased online from Saratoga Wine Exchange for $31.88 and Bedford Wine Merchants for $33.99 (plus shipping). If you would prefer Chardonnay, the 2016 DeMorgenzon Reserve Chard is also highly rated – and highly recommended – and may also be purchased online from Saratoga Wine Exchange for around the $40.00 mark.

The two red wines I tasted – the 2015 DeMorgenzon Reserve Syrah and 2016 DeMorgenzon Maestro Red – are also quite excellent. Syrahs can be on the harsh and heavy side… but the 2015 Reserve is as smooth as silk on the palate, loaded with ripe black fruit, and goes down nice and easy… Unfortunately, it isn’t exported to the US, so you’ll have to make a little jaunt to South Africa to pick it up. On the other hand, the 2016 Maestro Red, a first-rate Bordeaux blend comprised of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 10% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc, may be purchased online at www.cape-ardor.com for $27.00.


Jordan Winery Stellenbosch - Exterior 2Jordan Wine Estate: Gary and Kathy Jordan have been making world-class wines since 1993 on a farm with a history that goes back over 300 years. Gary’s parents, Ted and Sheelagh, bought the now 164-hectare Stellenbosch property in 1982 and embarked on an extensive replanting program, specializing in classic varieties suited to the different soils and slopes. The couple worked internationally for two years, learning the winemaking business before returning home to build a cellar in 1992. The following year, the wines were judged ready for making wines that would carry the Jordan name.

Our driver/guide, Conroy Gabriel, suggested we try the 2018 Jordan Nine Yards Reserve Chardonnay… and he was right on the money. A simply marvelous wine – big, bold & buttery – that sells for 425 South African Rand (approximately $29.00). Unfortunately, the 2018 is not readily available in the US. What is available is the 2012 vintage, which may be purchased in the US through Your Wine Cellars in Fort Lauderdale, FL, for $50.85, if you are so inclined.

Jordan Winery Stellenbosch - Cobblers Hill 2015This estate’s real claim to fame, however, is winemaker Gary Jordan’s incomparable 2014 Sophia, a Bordeaux blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Franc. It goes for 1,425 Rand (approximately $100.00 US dollars). This is a real gem; and I couldn’t resist purchasing a bottle to bring home in my suitcase. Sophia, however, is not imported into the United States. Fortunately, though, the 2015 Jordan Cobblers Hill, a similar blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Franc is readily available through www.cape-ardor.com. Not quite up to Sophia’s standard, but still very, very good… and about half the price, $47.00.


Hamilton Russell Winery - Exterior of Tasting RoomHamilton Russell Vineyards: I have mentioned this prestigious winery on several previous occasions… Hamilton Russell Vineyards – one of the most southerly wine estates in Africa and one of the closest to the sea – pioneered viticulture and winemaking in the beautiful maritime Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven & Earth) Valley appellation adjacent to the picturesque fishing village of Hermanus.

Tim Hamilton Russell purchased the underdeveloped 425-acre property in 1975, after an exhaustive search for the most southerly site on which to make South Africa’s top cool climate wines from a selection of noble grape varieties. His son, Anthony Hamilton Russell, who took over in 1991, narrowed the range to only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and registered Hamilton Russell Vineyards as an estate, committing to work only with grapes from their terroir.

Hamilton Russell Winery - Anthony & OliveToday, Anthony and his wife, Olive, winemaker Emul Ross, and viticulturist Johan Montgomery are completely dedicated to expressing the personality of the Hamilton Russell Vineyards terroir in their wines. Diminutive yields and intense worldwide demand keep the elegant, highly individual, estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in very short supply.

During my recent visit to South Africa, I tasted both the 2018 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay and the 2018 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir at their vineyard, and both were superb. The Chardonnay crop was tiny in 2018 – half the normal yield, according to winemaker Emul Ross – but the quality is as good as ever. The wine was fermented in amphorae and 29% new oak barrels, with 40% malolactic. “This is a beautiful and classic expression of Chardonnay from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, and it’s sure to please any Chardonnay lover,” notes Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Best of all, it is readily available in the US from a variety of online sources: Saratoga Wine Exchange, NY, $33.07; Empire Wine.Com, $33.95; Bedford Wine Merchants, $33.99 (various vintages also occasionally available through PA State Stores).

The HR 2018 Pinot Noir is equally up to the mark. It’s still a bit tight, but there’s plenty of backbone of sweet red berry fruit; and this wine should age and soften extremely well. Another fabulous effort from this superlative winery. The 2018 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir is available online from the Wine Library, Springfield, NJ, $29.99; and Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, $34.99. Once again, various vintages are occasionally available through PA State Stores.

Hamilton Russell’s affiliates include Southern Right and Ashbourne, two small vineyards also located in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus. Southern Right is a Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc specialist. The vineyard is named after the rare Southern Right wales, which frequent the cool South Atlantic waters a scarce three kilometers from the vineyards. Ashbourne also majors in Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc and has developed a reputation for innovative, highly individual, classically-styled age-worthy blended wines.


Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2018Although we didn’t manage to get to the Ken Forrester Winery (So many wines, so little time!), my travel companion and I were able to sample his excellent 2018 Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc with our dinner at Helena’s Restaurant in Stellenbosch. This is a lovely wine, golden-hued and full bodied, with a perfect balance of fruit and delicate oak/vanilla flavors. Ken Forrester utilizes six different Stellenbosch vineyards to make this old-vine cuvée. The wine is wild fermented with 20% new wood and tempts the palate with its rich flavorful fruit and fresh, well-balanced finish. An excellent wine at an excellent price. It is available online from wine.com for $16.99. I recommend it highly.





Nicholas in Main Dining RoomOn Tuesday, February 25, 2020, for one night only, Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will be serving their annual Fat Tuesday menu.

New Orleans “Fat Tuesday” Menu…

 First Course: “Antoine’s” Oyster Rockefeller

Second Course: Commander’s Palace” Turtle Soup

Third Course: Mother’s” Crawfish Étouffée with Dirty Rice

Fourth Course: “Willie Mae’s” Scotch House Country Fried Chicken with Cornbread Muffins

Dessert: Beignets al a “Café du Monde,” Chicory Ice Cream

The cost of the special Fat Tuesday menu is $95.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Louette's - Chef Steve HowellsOn Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, 2020, Louette’s BYO, 106 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, will be offering a special four-course menu priced at $89.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). On Thursday, February 13th and Saturday, February 15th, Louette’s will be offering a limited Valentine’s Day menu for those who may be unable to make it out on Valentine’s Day proper.

First Course (Choice of) – Ali Crudo: Lime, Asian Pear, Habañero, Sorrel… Parsnip Soup: Carbonated Apples, Celery… Roasted Beet Salad: Goat Cheese, Arugula, Walnut-Olive Pesto

Second Course (Choice of) – Millet Porridge: Confit Duck, Soft Poached Egg, Chili Oil… Whipped Chicken Liver: Tart Cherry, Lavash, Zaatar… House-Made Ravioli: Louette’s Ricotta Cheese, Hot House Tomatoes, Scallion, Brown Butter

Third Course (Choice of) – Chicken Roulade: Brussels Sprouts, Malted Barley, Grain Mustard… Short Rib: Duck Fat Potato Purée, Charred Broccolini, Chive… Olive Oil Poached Salmon: Sour Cream Spaetzle, Puffed Rice, Broccoli

Dessert Course (Choice of) – Molten Chocolate Cake: Vanilla Ricotta, Lemon Curd… Red Velvet Trifle: Coffee Custard, Macerated Strawberries, Marshmallow… Mascarpone & Buttermilk Mousse: Brown Butter Crumble, Pomegranate

For more information, or to make reservations, please call Louette’s BYO, (610) 924-9906.

Bon Appétit!