Sunday, August 9, 2015

The High Line & Wine

You might say that one benefit of being well behaved - some might say boring - upon the arrival of our naughty weekend in Manhattan, is that we actually got up early enough to grab coffee and a bit of a wander before our scheduled rendezvous with old friend, Berra Yogi. Ms Yogi had to teach a class first thing and we arranged to meet at Eataly around 11.

Boo and I recalled the Union Square Greenmarket as a major find during our last foray to NYC. My sense of direction wasn't as sharp as it should have been but we eventually found it. I know that I'd be a regular if I lived here. Even if the foods weren't as enticing as they were, the people watching alone was worth the effort.

Of course, we had what turned out to be one of the biggest laughs of the entire trip. We'd paid some hefty American dollars for last night's grilled duck hearts. Well, sure enough, we found a booth at the market that was dedicated to all things Hudson Valley duck. The sign that caught our attention most, however, was "Why not try some Duck Hearts as a treat for your cat or dog." Seems like there isn't much difference between haute cuisine for yourself and your pet in NYC.

I don't know anyone who feeds duck rillette to their pets though. So, Boo and I got right back on the duck and grabbed some for our pending picnic lunch with Berra Yogi.

If we found the Union Square Greenmarket to be exciting, Eataly was downright orgasmic. I'd never heard of Eataly before but it's a veritable love letter to Italian cuisine. It's as if my favourite Italian deli in Vancouver and Whole Foods had a love child - and then doubled or tripled the size. Mamma Mia!

We grabbed some smart coffees and wandered aisle after aisle, desperately trying to limit the number of items we threw into our basket. This was going to be one helluva picnic.

Despite all the fun we had cruising the aisles, we were running late and had to mosey on. But, not before we hit the adjacent - all Italian - wine shop.

It was now Saturday afternoon in Manhattan and the High Line - an elevated and abandoned spur of the old New York Central Railroad that's been converted into a linear park through the Meatpacking District and Chelsea - was packed. Surprisingly, the least used section of the park seemed to be the only grassy section. We took up residence and ripped into our treasures from Eataly.

Oh, and opened a couple of bottles of wine.

1968.  2013 La Spinetta - Toscana Vermentino (Toscana Fermentino IGT - Tuscany - Italy)

There was no hesitation before I grabbed this bottle for the picnic. La Spinetta is one of my favourite Italian wineries - ever since Boo and I visited it during our visit to Italy in 2008. Problem is, no one in the Vancouver market seems to carry their wines at all. Seeing that this was a Tuscan wine was also a little surprising in that we visited La Spinetta in Piedmont where the winery was established. If I'd previously been told that there was also a Tuscan operation, I'd forgotten.

We know La Spinetta more for their Barbarescos and other reds but I figured a picnic in Manhattan's summer heat called for a cooled white. I'm not really familiar with the Vermentino grape - particularly as a varietal wine - and I have no idea if this bottle was a good, bad or indifferent representation of the grape. There was a richness to the body but not a lot of fruit on either the nose or the palate. Herbal notes were perhaps a little more noticeable. All I know is that paired with prosciutto, cheese, olives and incredible bread - not to forget the duck rillette - and I was a happy camper.

1969.  Villa Sparina Gavi (Gavi DOCG - Italy)

I knew nothing about this wine; however, it was in the wine shop cooler, it had a interesting bottle and I'm always up for trying out something new.

Gavi is the region. Cortese is the grape. Turned out that it didn't do too much for any of us. It came across as tamer than the Vermentino and the acidity, that might have brought the overall reception up a notch or two, was decidedly missing. In looking up the grape in Jancis Robinson (et al)'s tome, Wine Grapes, even the sub-heading for Cortese is "generally rather bland northern-Italian white that shows its best varietal face in Gavi." Like the La Spinetta, I don't know if this was a favourable take on the varietal wine but it didn't do anything to make me swear allegiance to the grape for time memorial.

Once we eaten our fill of Italian fare and re-corked the balance of the Gavi, we wandered some more along the High Line and bid "adieu" to Berra Yogi. Unfortunately, she was off to work. As for our plans, cocktails and Broadway sounded like worthy strategy.

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