This is where we feature all our favorite things. Top sommeliers, awesome winemakers, great articles, and charity events at the Wine School. If we really love it, or we think you should know about it, it’s going to be right here!
This is the recipes from our cooking class on July 21st, 2014. Enjoy!
Fennel, Orange and Olive Salad
3 peeled oranges
1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
1 cup arugula
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
3 shallots, diced
2 cups orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the orange juice and zest. Bring to a boil. Drop to a simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Turn off the heat and add the red wine vinegar, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk to thoroughly combine and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add the oil in a thin, steady stream until completely incorporated and emulsified. Let chill.
Segment the oranges. Place in a bowl with the fennel, arugula and black olives. Chill. Toss gently with the sauce, then serve.
Acquerello Carnaroli with Shiitake
1 cup Acquerello Carnaroli rice. Substitute arborio rice, if you prefer.
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots peeled and diced
8 to 10 Crimini mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
½ cup red wine
3 cups broth (beef, chicken, or veg)
1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves only, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
Put the olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium heat.
Add the rice, and lightly toast for about two minutes.
Add the onions and mushrooms and saute until tender.
Add red wine, stir until absorbed.
Slowly stir the stock into the rice (pro tip: keep the heat consistent and do not flood the rice. Slowly add the stock over a 10 minute period.)
Stir in the cheese and serve.
Olive Oil Poached Salmon with Rustic Tomato Saffron Sauce
2 six ounce salmon fillets
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
3 large shallots, sliced in thin rings
2 pinch saffron
2 cups roma tomatoes (canned)
In a pot over medium high heat, add the oil and the shallots. Once the shallots are translucent, add the tomatoes. Bring to boil, then simmer for one hour.
Generously season the salmon with salt and pepper.
Place the fillets in a vacuum bag and top with half the aromatics, making sure that they touch the meat. Flip the bag over and repeat on the other side with remaining shallot rings, basil and dill.
Pour the olive oil into the bag.
Set water oven to 126.2°
Use the displacement method (Archimedes Principle) to remove the air and zip the seal.
Submerge the pouch and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the fillets
BYO culture in Philly is unique amount American cities. It came about due to the influence of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and high rent in Center City’s restaurant district. Rent for restaurants in center city can be as high as 34K a month, while the average rent in outlining neighborhoods can be as low as $2k a month. Add to that the high cost of liquor licenses, which can cost upwards of a quarter million dollars, and the fact that restaurants cannot buy wine at wholesale (the PLCB only gives restaurants a 7% discount rather than the 30-50% discount in most other states).
For most chefs, the choice it to either focus on their debt or focus on the food. Most opt for the later and open a small BYOB in a outlying neighborhood. And everyone in Philly followed them. At this point, the grand ole restaurants (Le Bec Fin, Susanna Foo, Striped Bass) on the 1500 block of Walnut Street have been long a long time. It’s places like Queen Village, NoLibs, Passyunk Ave, China Town, and the Gayborhood that have taken over as must-visit destinations for foodies.
Here is our current list of the top BYOB in Philly. Enjoy!
For sheer brilliance, their isn’t a place better than Will. Chris Kearse is one of the most innovative chefs working in Philly today. Small portions, perfect execution, and compelling preparations make this a go-to restaurant for everyone in the know.
Let’s get this out of the way, yes, Nick Elmi won Top Chef. Yes, it’s now almost impossible to get a reservation. Yes, there are only a dozen seats in this restaurant. That said, go anyways. Plead, threaten, or pitch a fit. Just get a reservation. Nick has a delicate and elegant touch with ingredients that is as rare as it is refreshing. His dishes are often subtle and winsome. Is he the Robert Frost of chefs?
Despite chef Pierre Calmels splitting his time between Bibou and Le Cheri, this wonderful BYOB still sparkles. Pierre is one of the truly one of the greatest French chefs working in America today. Also, he baked me a birthday cake, which was the coolest thing
This is the one of the few restaurants in Philly that cooks from an authentically Italian place. This is quintessential Southern Italian food, Molise in particular.
Joseph Scarpone may be a local boy, but he spent years cooking in Napa Valley. He returned to Philly to open the critically acclaimed Sovalo in NoLibs in 2008. He brings a lot of his cal-ital finesse to Ulivio, but the stress is now firmly on the Ital, not the Cal.
The Farm and Fisherman
One of the failings of most BYO is service and ambiance. A tiny chef-run restaurant will put out amazing food, but there is often no budget for a General Manager, who would be able to run the front of the house. That can mean the occasional misstep or quirky experience. That is not the case here. Along with a well-designed dining room, the waitstaff is excellent. The food is extraordinary, to boot.
Dutch food doesn’t have the same cache as Belgian. Bitterballen just doesn’t sound as sexy Moules-frites.However, here is Craig Leban’s take on Noord: “the soulful flavors of Lachman’s hand-spun ode to the North Sea were so apparent in my meals, not to mention the pure joy this native Philadelphian radiates at being back after a decade in Chicago, that I couldn’t help but appreciate the rare virtues Noord brings to our dining scene.” Yeah, that it enough for me, too.
There is a lot of sushi in Philly. Sadly, there isn’t much good sushi in Philly. Like most Sushi joints in Philly, this one isn’t Japanese, but Korean. The style is more robust and a greater focus on signature rolls and sauces. However, Doma takes the gold because of it’s traditional sashimi, which relies on freshness and execution.
Nan Zhou Noodle House
Bring your best bottles of Savoie and Alsatian Riesling. The noodles are hand drawn, which makes dishes like the Lamb Noodle Soup a must-eat in Philly. This is a lively and inexpensive restaurant in Chinatown, with fluorescent lighting and sturdy tables. It is also the home to some of the best noodles you will ever eat. This joint should be on your bucket list, not just your BYO list.
Nomad Pizza Company*
This is simply the best pizza in Philly. Let’s be clear: this isn’t Philly-style pizza (aka Greek pizza or Tomato Pie). This is traditional Neapolitan pizza. The crust is better than most drugs, so be warned. Bring your bottles of Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo.
*The most awesome Art Etchells pointed out that Nomad in Philly has a liquor license. The original in Hopewell, NJ is still a BYO.
The Greve Valley is lined with terraced vineyards. Looking across the valley from this winery, those stone walls can look like a giant scallete (ladder, in Italian). At least it did for the wineries original owner. We will never know where he thought that ladder would take him. He disappeared a long time ago and his winery fell to ruin.
Only much later, in 1991, was Poggio Scalette raised again, by none other than Vittorio Fiore, one of the greatest living winemakers working in Chianti.
Greve is one of the great Crus of Chianti Classico. The analogy I would make is that it is akin to Saint-Estèphe in the Haut Medoc. And yes, that is a totally geeked out analogy. Sometimes I can’t help myself.
Greve –which is pronounced like gravy, fyi– is one of the original wine growing towns of Chianti, with a history that dates far back into the middle ages. And still remains one of the best. Sadly, this information is often missing from the wine label. When it is present, it’s often in very small type.
The nose is an intriguing blend of fresh leather and chamomile tea. The palate is freshly crushed cherries and pomegranate that turns floral with a whiff of bergamot. The tannins are silky and edge the fruit into a blue state while the floral notes ebb into a spicy intense finish.
No matter it’s pedigree, Zinfandel is big, dumb and fun. I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. There should always be a place for fun. This is the wine for unsophicated meals. I couldn’t imagine a better wine for the smokiness of Texas pulled pork or the tang of Carolina-style brisket.
Conversely, it’s the perfect wine for sophisticated parties. It’s the wine for smart people having a good time: the type of party where Sartre quotes and dirty limericks are equally likely to emerge.
The Harris Kratka vineyard is high up on the pyramid, quality zin-wise. It’s located in the Chalk Hill AVA in southern Alexander Valley in Sonoma. Pro Tip: Wine regions can sometimes seem like nesting dolls, with smaller one residing in bigger ones. Harris Kratka is a perfect example; the vineyard is located in Chalk Hill wine region which itself is located in Alexander Valley, which is in Sonoma Valley, which is in the California AVA.
The Zinfandel comes from 50 year plus head-pruned vines. This is a very old vineyard, California-wise, and has been under production since the 1970′s, when it’s grapes were sold to Gallo. These days it’s grapes go to Rosenblum, along with a significant number of great wineries. This includes Rock Wall, Manzanita Creek, Fieldstone, R&B Cellars, Pezzi-King, Wilson, Carol Shelton, De Lorimier, and Wine Guerrilla. That’s an impressive line-up considering this is only a 17 acre vineyard.
The fruit is classic Sonoma zin: basically a cherry-powered Humvee that drives over your tongue with giant blueberry tires. It keeps up with its decadent show of force with dried plum, creme brulee, and licorice. At that point the jammy fruit turns a bit angular and shows a level of finesse that isn’t always found in Zinfandels. A trace of Thai Basil and brighter fruit moves into the finish with freshly ground black pepper. It’s that finish that shows it’s pedigree, and it’s definitely worth the price. I imagine Berliners of the Weimar Republic would have loved this wine.
Way back when I was in my early twenties, Pouilly-Fuissé was all the rage. The restaurant I was working at had three on their wine list. One of the greatest points of being a chef at such a young age was that I got to experience a lot of great wines early on. Drinking good wine didn’t mean I knew anything about wine, but I did know that Pouilly-Fuissé was the finest Chardonnay I had ever experienced by that point. And like all guys in their 20′s, I spouted off my knowledge with the same level of aplomb as the Phillie Phanatic shooting pork bullets from his pneumatic hotdog gun.
While Pouilly Fuisse has a lot more competition in the Chardonnay market today, it hasn’t lost any of it’s luster. A few salient facts: Pouilly Fuisse is the AOC (AKA wine region) for a few towns in southern Burgundy. The wines must made with 100% chardonnay. This particular wine comes from vineyards surrounding the town of Vergisson, although other surrounding towns ( Fuissé, Solutré-Pouilly, and Chaintré) can also call their wines Pouilly Fuisse.
We have used Evening Land wines at the wine school, but with a bit of hesitation. Their business is very different from a traditional winery, and I am not sure it’s a good direction for the wine trade. The “Evening Land” brand is owned by a investment group that started purchasing wineries in California, Oregon, and France in 2005. Their goal was to produce great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay around the world under the “Evening Land” label. They did manage to do that, but the project never really caught on with wine consumers. In fact, it seemed to confuse the marketplace. In the past few years, some of the wineries have been sold off, the firms founder (Mark Tarlov) left in 2012. The firm has recently started dumping their wine into the “Chairman’s Selection” program here in Pennsylvania. That means they are willing to sell their inventory at pennies on the dollar. This may signal the end of “Evening Land” in the coming years. It also means we hin PLCB land should be seeing more of these wines at good prices in the coming years, as well.
Sourced from old vines, this wine is mostly aged in tank, with a quarter of the juice aged in oak barrels for less than a year. This makes for a lovely fruit-dominated white Burgundy with fresh peach and sea foam on the nose. The palate pushes toward red fruit and veers back to ultra ripe pear with an undercurrent of toasted spices. The bright minerality moves forward into the finish with a refreshing bright note of orange oil. Medium bodied with a dose of buttery luxury, this wine is a great alternative to a Napa Chardonnay.