Showing posts with label Moet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Moet. Show all posts

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tasting US Open 2013

For more years than I’ll admit, I have spent weeks at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships covering tennis. It’s one of my favorite times of year. I catch up players and friends from the media. I also get to sample tons of delicious food and drinks, a task that has become more prevalent since I’ve focused on lifestyle writing.

I got started this year at the U.S. Open Food Tasting Preview. It was enough to convince anyone to come to the tournament whether or not they wanted to see tennis and the tournament is ready. The restaurants are prepared to serve 27,000 people during the tournament.

The tasting included appearances by chefs David Burke, Tony Mantunao and Masaharu Morimoto. They showed off their signature dishes and also told us about what’s new this year.  Here’s what was sampled (my friends Melanie and Meredith took care of the seafood sampling for me) from each restaurant:

Wine Bar
Burrata Cheese on French bread-light, tasty and a perfect wine accompaniment.
Salumi Antipasto with marinated artichokes and tomatoes and rosemary breadsticks-a nice selection of flavors mixing perfectly on this small plate.

Village Market
Kale Salad with yellow and green beans, tomato, carrots and cucumber in honey Dijon vinaigrette-fresh and light for a hot day at the National Tennis Center, but not very filling without added chicken.

Patio Café
Curried Crab and Watermelon Salad on a bed of baby lettuces with a curry aioli-large clumps of crab meat and sweet watermelon is a perfect match.

Hill Country Barbecue
Signature Brisket, pit-smoked over Texas oak-tender and tasty.
Pulled Pork Slider-one of the best I’ve had.
Maker’s Mark Bourbon Pecan Pie-save room for this one. Too bad they don’t make a full pie to go!

East Gage Grill
Pat Lafrieda Steak Sandwich topped with Monterey Jack cheese, caramelized onions and au jus on a French baguette-rare filet mignon with a bit of tangy sweetness.

Champions Bar & Grill
Grilled Portobello Burger stuffed with ratatouille, low-fat mozzarella and roasted pepper and served with chipotle mayo on brioche-an excellent combination that will be calling more than just vegetarians to the restaurant.

Morimoto Sushi-a selection of fish and vegetarian sushi that gets rave reviews.

Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche-large shrimp in a nice presentation, but not one of the top choices.

Even the Players Dining is getting an upgrade this year.  They have added gluten-free sandwiches; a Juice, Smoothie and Espresso Bar; and a Chocolate Milk Bar. I’m looking forward to sampling some of those offerings.

Grey Goose was on hand to sample their Signature Cocktail, the Honey Deuce, during the meal and then we went down to the Moet & Chandon Terrace, where I greeted some of my friends from Moet who I was at America’s Cup with and enjoyed some of their great bubbly.

In addition to the Grey Goose and Moet champagne bars, the U.S. Open also has a Wine Bar (which offers food pairings) and the Heineken Red Star Café.

While I enjoyed trying everything new and will certainly seek some of these dishes out over the next week or so, I am happy to say some of my U.S. Open “staples” are back, including the Caprese Panini in the South Plaza, the Potato Knish from the Glatt Kosher Cart and, of course, the Chocolate Peanut Butter from the Ben & Jerry’s, where they also have a great variety of low calorie smoothies to keep me cool in the hot sun. Then again, you can never go wrong with the Classic Burger and Waffle Fries. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moet & Chandon Champagne Welcome to America’s Cup

When it comes to sports, I’ve covered tennis and a little gymnastics. My knowledge of yacht racing was non-existent, but what’s a gal to say when she’s invited to play (and drink champagne) with Moet & Chandon at the America’s Cup Finals in Newport, Rhode Island? Yes, of course.

I was due to arrive at Boston airport late afternoon, but weather problems (a threat of storms, not actual rain) kept my flight grounded a bit longer than expected. By the time the car service got me to Newport, the rest of my group had already left for the America’s Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner.

This was not just a “dinner,” it was in the back of the Marble House Mansion, built in the late 19th century for the Vanderbilts. The evening was being hosted by Louis Vuitton and the tables were flowing with Moet & Chandon Champagne. Everyone who had ever participated in the world of boat racing was there and the ceremony for this year’s inductees had already started by the time I took my place with Stephane Baschiera, CEO of Moët & Chandon, Ludovic du Plessis, Vice President of Moët Chandon USA and Graham Boyes, CMO of Moët Hennessy USA.

Also at my table were the five fellow journalists I was sharing this adventure with, as well as public relations representatives of the champagne company. We enjoyed the food (especially the decadent Red Velvet Molten Cake) and bubbly and then stuck around a bit to dance to an unexpectedly incredible band.

Back at The Hotel Viking, I found a commemorative America’s Cup Moet & Chandon bottle of champagne, along with an ice bucket and two glasses. I smiled at it as I dozed off to sleep, dreaming about our itinerary for the next day.

Morning came too soon, but it was a beautiful day in Newport. I ordered breakfast from room service as I had a bit of time before we were taking off for our sail. I had been excited to hear we would be on Moet & Chandon America II, sailing through Newport Harbor on this yacht that participated in the 1987 America’s Cup Race off the Australian Coast.

I was not disappointed with the ride. The sun was shining as we helped sail the boat (I took the wheel for awhile) between boats both participating in and watching the morning practice. We finished the sail with champagne in gold goblets, a fitting send off before we headed down to the main venue.

After lunch we went to Fort Adams to the America’s Cup Village to watch the semifinal races from Club 45, the VIP restaurant that was overflowing with food and Champagne. We stayed until the end, happy to see the Americans had made the final, and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening festivities.

We began the night at yet another famed mansion, The Breakers. It was here that we were poured Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 1983, in celebration of the last time this event was in Newport. Among those toasting with us were the city’s Mayor Stephen Waluk, Ludovic du Plessis, sailing icons Russell Coutts and Jimmy Spithill, and U.S. Sailing President Gary Jobson.

The cocktail hour was followed by dinner at the Mansion, which consisted of various stations and passed hors d'oeuvres around the incredible grounds. We were introduced to all of the racing teams and even got to mingle with some of them, before calling it an early night. Everyone needed to get ready for the morning finals of the race.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Starting South Beach with The Q

February is one of my favorite months because it is the time of one of my favorite events. There is nothing that quite compares with the Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival for bringing together chefs and industry insiders.  This was my third year in a row attending and I was especially excited that I would also be covering for Ocean Drive Magazine.

My flight was running a bit late, but I arrived in time to get changed for The Q. I was staying at The National Hotel for the first time and was happily surprised at the locale – right in the center of all the events. I had a very nice room with a view and best of all it was just a quick walk out the back door to the beach. It happened to be the same beach The Q was set up on, at the Delano.

The Bubble Q had been my favorite event that previous years.  I had been disappointed to hear it would be cancelled, but happy to find out the new event, hosted by Moet Hennessy and called simply “The Q” would be very similar. I found that was certainly the case.

Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri hosted The Q, which served as the festival’s kickoff party. It was an eating frenzy, with some of the country’s best chefs serving a special barbecue dish of their choice. In addition, Moet Hennessy’s sponsorship of the event meant plenty of Belvedere Vodka, Moet Champagne and Hennessy Cognac.

As much as I hate to waste food, I did really want to take at least a bite out of as many items as possible. Here’s a sampling of some of the most memorable…

Chris Lilly passed out Big Bob Gibson barbecue, which was delicious, but was very rich so it was easy to leave it behind;

Dean Fearing of Fearings in Dallas had a superb BBQ Beef Taco that was a combination of sweet and savory;

Chef Yoshi Katsumura made Barbecue Wagyu Spareribs with Yuzyu sauce and candied skin, served with a Scallion Pancake and Watermelon Salad. It was terrific;

I really enjoyed my conversation with Nadja G. (check out my story at Cocktails and Joints). She is just so much fun and the pork belly she made was excellent;

The Hill Country Barbecue of New York offered some tender and tasty meat;

Chef Michael White prepared a yummy Grilled Pancetta with glazed figs and roasted pistachios;

Celebrity Cruises brought out a most delicious Spring Roll with white truffle barbecue sauce;

And, co-host Guy Fieri wowed all with food from his Tex Wasabi restaurant -- a Banh Mi Taco, served with barbecue chicken fried rice. 

For dessert, Godiva Chocolate had sweet treats for all, from drinks to mousse, to samples of their Belgium chocolate. Also there all the way from New York was the Big Gay Ice Cream truck, a big hit on a hot night.

Since the party was also the first night of SOBEWFF, many of the festival’s stars stopped by to visit the participating chefs. Andrew Zimmern, Robert Irvine and Rachael Ray were just a few who chowed down with their friends.

I stayed until the end and then headed back to The National Hotel for some rest. Day two at the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival was going to be a big one for me that included lots of interviews, some time with Antonio Banderas, and more food, wine and spirits than you could ever imagine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yarra Valley Wine Welcome

The week before I left for Australia my trip was marred by changes and cancellations thanks to a certain TV host (whose name happens to begin with “O”).  It seems she swept through Australia, leaving a wake of hotels, restaurants and tourism boards tired and broke. Most of my plans had to be changed and I have been relying on the kindness of strangers a lot more than I ever had before.  Yarra Valley was one of the places that invited me with open arms at the last minute and they couldn’t have been more sincere.

I’ve done a lot of trips that included the Moet-Hennessy group, including Cognac, Napa and Champagne, so they were the first I contacted when I made the decision to go the Yarra Wine Region.  Mat Janes arranged for me to be picked up in Melbourne and I arrived at Domaine Chandon early evening after an enjoyable ride through the Victoria countryside.  Even at a quick glance, the vineyards were beautiful, lined in yellow roses. The winery has only been here since the 1980s and is a lot more modern than most of what you see in regions like Napa.

Chandon has a brasserie on the premises with views of the vineyards to enjoy while sipping their wine with small bites like cheese platters. The draw here is sparkling wine and all of theirs is made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or a combination of the two. Not all their grapes are grown here, though, as they also use some from other regions, including the colder Tasmania.

The property Chandon is on was a dairy farm at one time, but it’s all about the wine now. This place was built with wine tourism in mind and they welcome 200,000 people per year with three guided tours each day.  There is also a “Sunday School” that is all about wine education.  After touring the grounds and learning how Chandon machine picks their grapes for sparkling overnight, when they are the coolest, I got to taste a few of their wines.

The Chandon Z-D is a Blanc de Blanc, which means it is made 100% of Chardonnay. It is bone dry, but definitely zesty. The Tasmanian Cuvee is a single vineyard wine that is light and fresh, with hints of peach and nectarine.  The Chandon Prestige Cuvee (2002) is very fruity and rich, while the Pinot Noir Rose has a strong strawberry nose and holds the berry taste in a semi-dry finish. In contrast, the Pinot Noir is a dry wine that is fruit forward, with a tobacco and spice finish.  I noticed that the Pinot Noir from this region is drier than what I am used to in California, but that wasn’t the case with Chandon Chardonnay, a 2008 vintage that was citrusy and light, almost like a Sauvignon Blanc.

Mat and I left the winery and headed over to Chateau Yering, where I was staying the next two days. This Relais & Chateau property has the feel of an old country inn with a touch of luxury. My room was warm and inviting, with a balcony that offered perfect views and a bathroom that combined the old (stand alone tub) with the new (modern shower).   I also loved the soft, cuddly stuffed cat that was actually the “do not disturb” sign when he was placed outside the door.

We had a lot more wine to discuss and taste, so we did it over dinner at Chateau Yering's exclusive Eleonore’s Restaurant, where Chef Mathew Macartney works magic with the freshest ingredients, even when he has to deal with my allergies and need for well cooked meat.  Even the entrees (the word for appetizer in Australia) were exotic as Mat feasted on Char-Grilled Baby Snapper with Nori Vinaigrette, Spanner Crab Maki Roll, Daikon Spaghetti and Avocado Puree.  I had a “Vegetable Garden” of Organic Radishes, Artichokes, Truffle Jelly, Potato Couland Nasturium and Coulis Parmesan Mousse.  Both were delicious, as were our main dishes: Milk Fed Yeringberg Lamb, Heirloon Carrots, White Bean Puree, Olive Jam,. Eucalyptus Emulsion for Mat; and Roasted Grimaud Duck Breast, Smoked Banana Puree, Foie Gras Pacel, Pumpkin Pie and Baby Figs in a Pedro Ximenez Glaze. The desserts were just as exotic (and tasty) and, of course, it all went down best with Chandon’s Brut.

Whether it was the wine, the fresh country air or the comfort of the Chateau Yering, I had my best night’s sleep in preparation for my first full day in Yarra Valley, starting with a full, European style breakfast at the Chateau’s Sweetwater Café, followed by a tour, tasting and lunch at Yering Station Winery, and my introduction to the hospitality of the Webbers and their De Bortoli wine, all friends that Wine Australia introduced me to.

To visit the Yarra Valley check out