Fairway Wines: Check Back In
One thing that annoys me about the blogosphere is its cult of “first-in-the-door,” when every idiot with a laptop rushes in to pronounce a new restaurant good or bad. (And, yes, we do “First Tastes” on Eater, but those are news stories and never critical reviews.) Time was, restaurant critics waited a couple of months to file their reviews, at least postponing their visits until a restaurant had settled into a groove. Were they being noble? Hardly. Critics waited because the first few weeks of a restaurant’s life don’t represent what the restaurant offers in maturity.
Knowing all of this, I still heeded Fairway Wine’s clarion and visited the store days after its Memorial Day opening. Turns out, even though this store is not a restaurant, it was still too soon to judge.
Recently, I spoke with Angelo Martelli, Fairway’s director of wine, and it seems that Fairway Wines and Spirits had been committed to open by Memorial Day. Apparently, its staff hadn’t been able to enter all of the more esoteric wines into its system by that date, which accounts for my lament that Fairway Wines and Spirits did not demonstrate its flagship brand’s character.
Folks, Fairway Wines and Spirits is much changed since my eh-ish post. Not only are its aisles much fuller, but they hold more cultish wines – just the sort of quaff you might pair with Fairway Market’s exotic salts, mushroom and truffle oils, and esoteric La Quercia Iowan prosciutto. You’ll find my beloved Planeta Nero d’Avola, Chateau Redortier Beumes de Venise, Lopez de Heredia “Via Bosconia”, and Bodega Chacra Barda Pinot Noir – all—I’ve checked—at pretty good prices. Plus, they’re being offered Fairway Market-style, with chippy Steve Jenkins -penned descriptors.
For bargain buyers, Fairway Wines is offering tons of budget bottles, many in the seductive under $10 category. In fact, Angelo Martelli comes to Fairway from Stew Leonard’s, so he knows his way around Westchester’s cheapskate drinkers (like me). He’s joined by Andrew Blythe, straight from Astor Wines, who’s usually on hand to pair your boar sausage with a big wine. Next time you’re at Fairway Market, walk next door – even if they don’t have that sexy Captain Morgan pirate out front. Here’s a pic of Howie Glickberg, Fairway Market’s patriarchal grocer, with Wine Director Angelo Martelli.
Gossip Round Up
Here are four juicy gossip bites from the frontlines of Westchester food
• LuLu Cake Boutique’s Jay Muse was apparently approached for Chelsea Clinton’s Rhinebeck wedding. He demurred because delivering the gluten-free cake in compliance with endless Secret Service/presidential protocol would have forced Muse to cancel several other contracts. Let’s hear it for Jay, who didn’t drop his regulars for the high-profile gig.
• Rumors have been swirling around Bedford Post, hinting that Richard Gere was tiring of the “hospitality business.” Swank GM Chris Tunnah bailed last year, Pastry Chef Chris Broberg vamoosed, then BP’s founding chef, Brian Lewis, announced right here that he was departing for his own spot. Martha Stewart, Gere’s neighbor and buddy, was rumored to have been interested in the Squirrely Acres property but that seems less likely now.
• I love talking to chefs because cooking is like a brotherhood – they all love and respect each other until about the fourth sentence. That’s when chefs reveal their nasty, competitive natures, often cutting into the other guy as though he were today’s meat order. Factoid of the week? Someone heard from someone’s linen service that Dave DiBari’s 70-seat Cookery was doing 1200 covers per week. Which someone felt was unconscionable. Told D. DiBari this story and he gave me a “waka-what?” double-take and then looked mystified, and a little bit hurt.
• The fire and financial woes at veteran Indian Bengal Tiger are neither funny nor titillating – my heart goes out to Simson Kalathara and his whole family. Ditto Crabtree’s Kittle House, whose much-touted chef, Brad McDonald, bailed late in June—only months after his reign was kicked off when Food and Wine named the Kittle House one of its top five wine pairing spots. Chef Carmen Gonzalez is stepping in for a two month stint.
Deals and Steals
With so many local diners swanking around their summer houses, restaurants are offering enticing summer deals. Here are some picks:
Crabtree’s Kittle House is announcing that every Friday night through July and August will be oyster night in the Tap Room, with little neck clams for $.50 and blue points for $1. The bivalves are shucked to order right in the room, and it’s a perfect opportunity to tuck into the Kittle House’s by-the-glass list.
Plates “Bottomless BBQ” Sundays (5pm, $28; $10 for children aged 10 and under)
Look for pulled pork, ribs, brisket, and other smoker specials, with Plates claiming, “You order it, we keep it coming! Pair it with our beers on tap: Magic Hat #9 or Hefeweizen Circus Boy, and take a spot on the outdoor patio or inside as you please.” For its fans, Plates’s regular menu is also available.
Chutney Masala is offering several great deals, including $5 drinks every day from 5 to 7pm. Also look for a great Saturday and Sunday “Passage to India”-themed buffet ($16.95 adults/$12.95 kids), as well a terrific outdoor tandoor barbecue every Thursday night. (PS: Look for more on this soon.)
Killer ‘Cue, Tandoor Style
Forget all those other joints with their king-sized, rotating smokers. At Chutney Masala, Chef Navjot Arora offers classic Indian ‘cue. He’s taking his portable tandoor oven riverside and heating it with natural coals, using it to turn out delicious, lightly smoke-scented naans which he suggests wrapping around his tandoor-fired ground lamb kebabs. Trust us—this makes the best wrap ever, especially when graced with a dab of spicy mint chutney.
Love this New York Times video of a Frenchman opening wine with a very French-looking shoe. Who says that Americans wrote the book on grit, determination, and ingenuity?