Tag Archives: new york

Adventures: Terroir, East Village – New York

I am deeply conflicted about Terroir, a wine bar with branches in both New York’s TriBeCa and East Village.

On the one hand I wish it were downstairs from my apartment, so I could visit whenever I pleased, to partake of excellent bar snacks and work my way through all 54 pages of the wine list.  On the other, I am glad it is a long flight away in a country I try and visit no more than once a year, lest I absent myself from my business and relationship in order to become a devotee of Paul Greico and his altar to wine, slowly draining any accessible funds along with each glass.  I am resolved however that Terroir could only exist in New York.

Terroir is a small, buzzy and instantly comfortable wine bar that you would probably not give more than a second glance if you weren’t looking for it, as we were.  In fact I was somewhat obsessed and lucky that my patient husband was good enough to indulge me.  It works as a place to drop in for a few drinks after work or a place to gather with wine nerds and enjoy rare and very special wines.  The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and you’ll sit at the bar or a communal table where you’ll strike up conversations with a variety of people who love wine.  I do not recall the specifics of what I drank – a slightly sparkling German Riesling to start, many other things afterwards…… the passionate staff are willing and competent accomplices in whatever exploration of the wine list you wish to make and it makes sense to put yourself into their hands.  We shared a ‘combo platter’ of charcuterie and cheese which is available in three sizes – methuselah, salmanazar and melchizedek.  Whatever size you get this is very good value and full of excellent wine friendly food.  The food is by Marco Canora, also chef at the very excellent Hearth restaurant, a few doors from Terroir where we later had easily the best dinner I’ve eaten in the US.  Again, the staff at Hearth was knowledgeable, passionate and accommodating of a request for some Australian wine, resulting in a Betts & Scholl 2002 Grenache from the Barossa Valley.  It may seem sacrilegious but sometimes after extended travel you wish for something familiar. 

We visited during Terroir’s ‘Summer of Riesling’, a celebration of Riesling where the only white wines available by the glass were Riesling.  A fantastic idea!

In case you think that Terroir is an elitist place for wine snobs, here are some gems from the menu and wine list:

“Cheese – The Other White Meat, Ask Any Belgian Monk”

Lyrics for ‘White Wine In a Box’ – a wine themed reworking of Justin Timberlake and SNL’s ‘Dick In A Box’ and ode to Lindsay Lohan rolled into one.

A full page missive calling for street fairs to be banned: “Because while street fairs generated $1.6 million for NYC last year, Street Fairs cost us $2.4 million in police overtime.  Because all the tube socks Street Fairs sell have holes in them.  Because a chicken kabob on 3rd Avenue and 22nd Street tastes exactly like 3rd Avenue and 22nd Street and that is not the terroir we are looking for.”

(in the middle of around a dozen pages devoted to rieslings) “Acid is our Friend!  Like a date with Lady Gaga.  Or an audience with Hugo Chavez.  Or a dance with Kathy Lee Gifford.  ………We are generally afraid of acidity in wine.  But damnit People of America…we desperately need acidity in our lives…to cleanse the streets of blowhard millionaires from Buffalo, to drown the stupidity of the 6th Congresswoman from Minnesota, to act as an enema against the overcrowded hallways of K Street.  We desperately need ACIDITY.”

From “The Architect of Wine Silence” on Anne-Claude Leflaive of Domaine Leflaive  “A rare few can elevate wine to a level where one doesn’t even realise grapes or man was involved; only terroir can be experienced…….The architecture of these wines is profound.  Silence can be the only result when faced with such perfection.”

Greico’s immense passion is stamped all over Terroir, his opinions illuminate and expound the virtues of the myriad wines offered.  If you are in New York, forget Momofuku, forget Per Se, forget the rest and get your arse on a stool at the bar at Terroir. 

Note:  I am most distraught that the fabulously entertaining wine list is now a mere 35 pages and no longer includes political commentary about Obama, Greek economic woes and contains only about a third the total number of rants.  Importantly I think there is still just as many wines.  After my visit, I commented on Twitter to @TerroirNY that I had contemplated slipping a copy of the wine list into my hand bag – to which Greico replied with a link to the wine list and a suggestion that I should ‘Print wine list, make hand bag’.  The reality is Terroir’s wine list provides enough material to make luggage requiring several valets.

Adventures: The Breslin, New York

On a trip to New York a few years back, a friend of a friend did his best to get us a table at The Spotted Pig, at the time something highly exciting for New York – a gastropub.  With April Bloomfield in the kitchen, at the time this was the hot ticket in Manhattan and the place was heaving.  Although it makes no sense to me, its relatively common for a hot restaurant in New York to have a no bookings policy.  One day soon I know a restaurateur is going to offer me a credible explanation for this, but it hasn’t happened yet. 

Our generous friend, a Kiwi living in upstate New Jersey and representing Australian and NZ lamb to Americans, grabbed us a round of pints at the bar, Speckled Hen if I remember correctly.   We casted around for diners about to depart, but the situation was bleak.  A Hollywood starlet and her group of at least 30 occupied half the dining area.  Heath Ledger was not in the building.  So we finished our pint and grabbed a few coasters and headed out on the street to regroup and put into operation our Plan B.  One of The Spotted Pig’s coasters is on my desk as I type. 

Not so fun fact – It was on the site of The Spotted Pig that Welsh poet Dylan Thomas died.  It shares its location with The Whitehorse Tavern, also a favourite of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Anaïs Nin, Hunter S Thompson and Jack Kerouac.  Funny how celebrity culture has overtaken creativity.  Anyhow, I digress.

Having been denied a visit to The Spotted Pig, I was a tiny bit excited to realise that April Bloomfield’s newest venture, The Breslin, was a short walk from our hotel when we were visiting New York a couple of months ago.  April has some great names under her belt having spent time at Chez Panisse and River Cafe before opening The Spotted Pig.  Her partner-in-crime Ken Friedman has excelled himself with the interior, which is a quirky yet well conceived English pub/club hybrid.  Think dark wood panelling, antler chandeliers, tin mirrors and oiled floorboards with a a nice collection of low brow art.  Located on the ground level of the achingly hip Ace Hotel in Chelsea, we were all set to have dinner and drinks there, but got rained in.  In any event, we had already spent most of the day eating and pretty much ruined our appetite.  So we ventured out into a steamy New York summer day for breakast the next morning determined to try out The Breslin. 

A sucker for cheese and a lover of a good Croque Monsieur we went with the Grilled 3 Cheese Sandwich with house smoked ham with an egg and a full English breakfast of house made pork sausage, fried egg, tomato, mushroom and bacon with a side of Home Fries just to keep with the overeating theme.  The ubiquitous Amercian breakfast staple of home fries was in fact potatoes roasted in duck fat with caramelised onions and a scattering of flat leaf parsely.  If only all hotel buffets shared this same definition of home fries!  The 3 Cheese Sandwich was as big as my head with sweet flaky pork goodness and excellent sourdough.  Clearly, Chef Bloomfield knows how to source the finest porky treats as the sausage and bacon were also amazing.  Despite being entirely full to the point of bursting, I couldn’t leave any of the ‘home fries’ behind.  Wow – so good.  I also enjoyed pretty much the best flat white I’ve ever had, anywhere. 

Special mention to the staffer who chooses the music.  Over the course of breakfast we were treated to Rod Stewart’s ‘Maggie May’, an anonymous rendition of ‘Tennessee Waltz’ with some Hot Chip, Guns N’ Roses and Motown classics thrown in just to keep us guessing. 

It’s probably one of the more expensive ways to eat breakfast in New York and there were only a handful of diners when we visited at around 9:30am.  However, I heartily recommend it if you are visiting New York.  Dinner features a pigs foot dinner for two as well as a dry aged 28 day rib eye for two and a full ‘pudding’ menu with trifle, syllabub and buttermilk pie.  East Coast craft beers and hand pumped house beers are also a specialty.

Next visit I hope to make it to The Spotted Pig and get some more coasters.