A Toast to my favorites from 2009


I’m a very present-tense, on-to-the-next-thing sort of person, so it’s been fun to look back at 2009 for some of my favorite food and wine memories. Here is a series of belated New Year’s toasts:

1. To dinners at home: While we were still living in Harlem, the weekly ‘salon’ on Tuesday nights with my half-sister Ellen and Jason’s sister Charmayne and her husband Roberto… the food was usually simple (and dessert was often made on the fly; thank goodness for Dorie Greenspan’s Swedish Visiting Cake, to which I always add chopped apples) but the company was full of youthful energy and much silliness usually ensued. Here’s to inviting friends and family over for casual meals!

2. To dinner parties: A higher level of cuisine prevailed at all the Vinartculture wine dinners, which are definitely in my Top Ten Meals of the year.  Thanks so much to Carlita for masterminding the effort. It was great to take the time to seek out and taste wines with friends and make great food. Here’s to dinner parties with friends who are great cooks!

3. To dining out: Although we didn’t do much dining out last year, when we did we sure did it right. Jason treated me to an extravagant feast at Gramercy Tavern to celebrate our anniversary. The dining room is well appointed and the food is great, but there are a lot of attractive places to get good food in NYC. What makes Gramercy Tavern stand apart is the service –I can’t put my finger on exactly how they do it, but they make you feel like your dinner is a truly special occasion, despite the fact that there are other people’s special occasions going on all around you (it seemed like every table had a birthday.) I can’t remember what we ordered, but I do remember that everything was delicious and that we were ridiculously full after 4 courses. The whole evening has a special glow around it in my memory.  Here’s to Gramercy Tavern!

4. To terrific wines that aren’t expensive:  What with the life changes this year (as in: buying a house and having a kid) we have been more overjoyed than ever to realize you don’t have to spend a lot to get a great bottle of wine. My perennial top-favorite white is Marc Ollivier’s Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet. Even at the new price of $13.99, it is a bargain: complex, refreshing, and downright delicious. I love this wine so much that it HAD to be our wedding white in 2008, and of course we have been drinking it at home with everything ever since, too. On the red front, I’d have to say that the Deux Anes Corbieres “premier pas” 2007 was definitely our top everyday wine in 2009.  When the supply we brought from New York ran out and we had to shop locally for wines (Jenny and Francois wines are not available in Vermont…. YET) this was the wine that all selections had to measure up to (and failed).  Here’s to Jenny and Francois and Joe Dressner for importing such wonderful, natural wines!

5. To having a place to buy them: As a corollary, my vote for the top place to shop for wines, anywhere, in 2009 and forever anon goes to Chambers Street Wines. When we visited NYC briefly on Christmas Eve, we’d had them deliver a case and a half of wine uptown to the apartment…. I don’t know any other shop where you can make such a delicious assortment of wines for so little money. Chambers Street is also where I go when I want to go the whole hog and spend some serious money, but isn’t it great that they pay just as much attention to the wines they sell for under $15? Here’s to Chambers Street Wines!

And here is to another year of great eating, drinking, and art in 2010. I’m looking forward to spring gardening projects and more fresh and delicious local food. Meanwhile, we are getting creative with root vegetables and frozen greens as we watch the snow fall and wait for spring. Oh, and we are about to bottle our first batch of home-brewed beer! Here’s to that, definitely (in a few weeks, anyhow)!

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