Posts tagged ‘wine’

Proof–Washington, DC

There’s a very good reason why Proof is considered one of Washington, DC’s hot spots of the moment, in the hopping Penn Quarter. Although I’ve only been there once, I can’t express my enthusiasm enough. Incredible food, exhaustive wine list, attractive decor and a fun vibe all combine to make the experience a special one.

We started with pork confit on jicama slaw with a red pepper lime emulsion, an incredibly pillowy gnocchi with tomato and basil, and stacked tuna tartare with crispy nori tempura.

Do I have your attention yet? No? Okay, let’s move on to the entrees.

A gorgeous vegetarian napolean, with crispy tofu standing in for the usual pastry layer, honey glazed duck with yam puree and pomegranate emulsion, and sablefish with pumpkin seeds, raisins, garbanzo beans, spinach and romesco sauce. The latter dish was the only one of the evening I wouldn’t order again, not so much because it wasn’t enjoyable, but rather because it wasn’t as exciting as the other dishes.

The menu changes monthly to keep up with what’s in season, and servers are knowledgeable and engaging.

Restaurants come and go all the time; it’s such a tough business. Proof has been open for three years, but it’s still hard to secure a reservation or even find a seat at the bar.

And to think it’s known more for its spectacular wine inventory than the food.

Proof on Urbanspoon


September 7, 2010 at 9:40 pm 1 comment

JP Wine Bar

I have always been a fan of JP Wine Bar in the Crossroads District.  (The Leawood location recently closed.) I enjoy the wine and cheese flights and the food has always been fabulous. Last year the menu was tweaked to include more entrees and fewer small plates, evidently because Kansas Citians have trouble with the small plate concept and don’t know how much to order (or maybe they just wanted larger portions).

It’s been a while since I’d been and I wanted to check out some of their newer menu items. My friend and I split the scallops with grilled artichokes, carnitas, and seared tuna with a sushi rice cake and stir fried vegetables. Though each dish was good and nicely presented, nothing was memorable or knock- your-socks-off delicious. The scallops were properly prepared, but one-dimensional and  not very exciting. The carnitas were served with good homemade corn tortillas and a spicy green sauce, but the black beans that accompanied the pork were beyond dry. The tuna was rare as requested, but the entire dish lacked flavor and oomph. It was a real disappointment.

The patio was packed on such a beautiful evening and the service was excellent. It’s still a great place for some special wine–I just hope the chef works on returning the food to its former glory.

J P Wine Bar & Coffee House on Urbanspoon

May 6, 2010 at 8:09 pm Leave a comment

Finding the Perfect Wine for your Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving will be here in the blink of an eye. In addition to planning your feast, why not give some thought  to what wines will best complement it? You deserve to drink something that will highlight the countless hours you spend preparing that gorgeous bird with all the trimmings. rose wine

I’m a firm believer that you should drink what you enjoy without consideration of the connoisseurs’ rules. Most experts would tell you that white wine is the most appropriate selection with turkey, but with so many health studies extolling the virtues of red, the color white has certainly fallen out of favor.

Regardless of your preference, take an inventory of your buffet table before deciding upon a varietal. The intensity and flavors in the wine should match that of the cuisine. Unoaked Chardonnays match up well with cream sauces and giblet gravy, while Sauvignon Blanc works best with butternut squash, oyster stuffing, brussel sprouts, and even mashed potatoes. Riesling stands up to spicy foods as well as sweet desserts. Viognier is a fashionable grape of the moment and would be a pleasing, all-purpose choice.

Of the red varietals, Pinot Noir is a safe choice. But keep in mind the cornucopia of delectable and rich options sitting on that groaning sideboard. Zinfandel has deeper flavors to match such fruity dishes as cranberry sauce, and Shiraz/Syrah will bring out the best in that peppery, spicy, and oh-so-rich sage stuffing.

November 17, 2009 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

Cellar Rat

If you’re on the hunt for that hard-to-find bottle of wine or beer from around the world, checkIMG_0334 out the Cellar Rat in the Crossroads District. Rather than focusing on big ticket bottles as some wine stores are apt to do, Cellar Rat has only a small section devoted to the higher priced vintages, with the bulk of the store shelves displaying wines priced under $20. Reds and Whites are divided by country and then varietal, making the search a little more manageable. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, or you need help pairing a wine with the dinner you’re preparing, the staff is knowledgeable and happy to assist you with your selections.

Wine classes and wine tasting events are offered in a tasteful private room that has a working garage door at one end.  After an hour of wine appreciation by an expert staff member, participants learn how to taste and characterize wine, using four white wine and five red wine varietals. The discussion is lively and informal, and a pleasurable way to learn the basics. After the wines have been tasted and compared, a variety of cheeses is offered to conclude the class.

Cellar Rat also carries an impressive array of imported beers and ales, but they don’t forget about our hometown Boulevard Brewery. Artisan cheeses are available for purchase as well and they even make homemade mozzarella, which is snapped up almost as quickly as it is produced.

1701 Baltimore

September 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm Leave a comment

Pairing Food and Wine

I often have difficulty pairing wine with whatever I’m serving for dinner. We’ve gone well beyond “white with fish, red with meat”, and there are so many grape varietals that it can be a bit overwhelming to decide. For a handy tool, check out wine maven Natalie McLean’s Drinks Matcher. Select the dish you’re having, and it shows what wines go best. Or, if you have a wine you want to serve, it gives you suggestions of what food will work well with it. [clearspring_widget title=”Natalie MacLean’s Drinks Matcher” wid=”499d0d5ceaf11a9c” pid=”4aa809ee7c11c3b0″ width=”300″ height=”272″ domain=””]

The new guideline seems to be “match the weight of the food with the weight of the wine”. For instance, you probably wouldn’t want to pair a Cabernet Sauvignon with sushi, or a Reisling with rack of lamb.IMG_0334

Here’s a list from Wine Spectator that you might find helpful. It ranks whites and reds in the order of their weight, from lightest to heaviest. It takes the guess work out of trying to determine where the more obscure grapes fit into the spectrum, and should make it easier to pair your food with a variety of wines that would work. Remember, this is not like a test you took in 5th grade–there’s more than one right answer!

Selected dry and off-dry white wines, lightest to weightiest:

• Soave, Orvieto, Pinot Grigio
• Off-dry Riesling
• Dry Riesling
• Muscadet
• Champagne, Prosecco, Cava and other dry sparkling wines
• Chenin Blanc
• Arneis
• French Chablis and other unoaked Chardonnays
• Rioja (white)
• Pinot Blanc
• Albariño
• Vermentino
• Verdejo
• Sauvignon Blanc
• Greco di Tufo
• Grüner Veltliner
• White Bordeaux
• White Burgundy
• Pinot Gris (Alsace, Tokay)
• Viognier
• Gewürztraminer
• Barrel-fermented or barrel-aged Chardonnay (United States, Australia)

Selected red wines, lightest to weightiest:

• Valpolicella
• Beaujolais Cru
• Dolcetto
• New Zealand Pinot Noir
• Burgundy
• Oregon Pinot Noir
• California Pinot Noir
• Cabernet Franc
• Barbera
• Chianti Classico
• Rioja
• Brunello di Montalcino
• Ribera del Duero
• Barbaresco
• Grenache/Garnacha
• Pinotage
• Merlot (United States)
• Malbec
• Barolo
• Bordeaux
• Petite Sirah
• Zinfandel
• Cabernet Sauvignon (United States, Australia)
• Rhône Syrah and Australian Shiraz

Wine Spectator

Aug. 7, 2009

September 11, 2009 at 8:35 am 1 comment

The Drop Bar

I love the Drop. If you haven’t been, go, and if you haven’t been lately, it’s time to go back. It’s on Martini Corner, on 31st Street, between Oak and Gilham. While the stark décor might be more attractive to the under thirty crowd, the food should be pleasing to all palates.IMG_0335

The menu is small, but each item is tasty and fresh. We started with white bean hummus, topped with  toasted cumin seeds that lent an unique taste to the taste and presentation.

The most inspired offering that’s not to be missed is the bruschetta platter. Share it with a friend and make a meal of it. The innovative list of bruschetta features more than a dozen from which the diner picks four to sit atop the thick grilled bread. We chose the brie and apple, the strawberry and IMG_0336gorgonzola, both of which were excellent but couldn’t unseat my two favorites– the one with pistachios, chopped figs and goat cheese, and the other with fontina, caramelized onions and spiced almonds.

Though the original menu featured mostly items that didn’t need to be cooked (the restaurant has a ridiculously small kitchen), the Drop now offers small plates and even such substantial dishes as lamb chops and coffee encrusted ribeye.  The crab cakes were fabulous–as good as anywhere in the  city,with only enough filler to hold each one together, and served with a spicy sriracha aioli and guacamole. We practically licked the plate! IMG_0339

The place is quite the scene, especially during Happy Hour when they offer great food and drink specials, including 1/2 priced starters and $5 glasses of wine.  The music tends to be too loud for the over-40 crowd, but it does add to the lively atmosphere.

Starting Sept 28, the Drop will again be open for lunch, following a break during which owner Eddie Crane enjoyed his new baby. That’s good news for all of us who missed stopping by at the noon hour for a light salad and bruschetta or sandwich.

Drop on Urbanspoon

September 9, 2009 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Wine Spectator Comes to KC

There I was one Sunday afternoon watching the Royals (I’m an optimist) and reading a recent issue of Wine Spectator, when I came upon an article touting the virtues of our own Oklahoma Joe’s.

In Kansas City visiting friends, James Laube, noted wine expert,  hit many of our town’s hot spots, including Blanc Burger and Bottles, Extra Virgin, and Starker’s.  Then he got down to business with a barbecue tour, paying homage to Oklahoma Joe’s, Arthur Bryant’s, Gates, Jack’s Stack and L.C.’s–all in one day! He was disappointed that none of these restaurants had a wine list except Jack’s Stack. (On the contrary, I think most Kansas Citians would be put off if they did!) He did offer one bit of good advice for those who enjoy wine with barbecue. Pair it with peppery Zinfandels or Syrahs — they can stand up to spicy sauces. Regardless, I think I’ll stick to Boulevard Wheat with my ribs.

The author proclaimed Oklahoma Joe’s the best of the barbecue,  another feather in its cap for this local favorite. Earlier this summer, Anthony Bourdain of Kitchen Confidential fame named it one of the “Thirteen Places to Eat Before you Die” in Men’s Health magazine (an interesting choice for a health mag).  This comes of course as no surprise to those of us who consider barbecue one of the four food groups.

September 7, 2009 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment