Saturday, January 26, 2008

Miranda visits: Extra Virgin, Max Tribeca, Korean scrub, and Dylan Prime

Miranda, whom I roomed with in Marrakesh (مراكش) this previous summer at our friend Shaunna's wedding, came to stay me this week at the tail end of her manufacturing conference in NYC. What a treat to have such a positive and social person come to visit.

Shaunna, Thierry, Gael, Peter, Georgia(Miranda's mom), Jim, Miranda, and I met on Tuesday night at Extra Virgin. I had always wanted to check out this place but it never happened. After dining there, I discovered the reason for the unconscious delay: the food and wine list were decent. The company however, was terrific. What a disappointment as the place had a charming vibe, above average service, and a prime location. Shaunna and I ordered a prosecco to start and then a rioja. The wines were good but not noteworthy.

On Thursday evening, Miranda, Jo(family friend and industry colleague), and I went Max Tribeca, an Italian restaurant down the block from my apartment. The food is solid and the portions generous and authentic. I ordered a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo to start. Montepulciano is both the name of a place and a grape in Italy. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is the grape montepulciano that comes from Abruzzo. Up to 15% of sangiovese can be added but no additions are required per the DOC. These are typically wines that are easy to drink with good, accessible fruit and soft tannins. On the other hand, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a place name. "Di Montepulciano" means from Montepulciano, a town in southern Tuscany. Vino nobile is made with a sangiovese clone called prugnolo gentile and small amounts of canaiolo nero and mammolo. The wine is easy to drink and we drank it quickly. I ordered a Piedmont barbera next; barberas can be good to excellent. The bottle I ordered was good but they can be profound when in the hands of producers such as Braida or Vietti, who make single vineyard and barrel-aged wines. During dinner, Miranda commented that she had never tried a Pinot Noir with personality so after dinner we headed to my apartment for one last bottle of wine. I had the perfect personality wine to share with her: the 2002 Vision Cellars Pinot Noir, Rosella's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands. Both the wine and winemaker are full of personality. Forward ripe fruit of blueberries, cherries and black spice on the nose, gobs of explosive fruit on the palate but with sufficient acidity to support the wine. Long finish with lingering spices. Rosella's is a top cru in Santa Lucia Highlands in California, among Pisoni and Gary's.

On Friday, Miranda and I decided to make it a spa day so we headed to Koreatown for a Korean scrub. A neophyte, she was a bit ambivalent but was willing to trust me. Yi Pak is a no frills place located on 32nd Street between 5th Avenue and Broadway. I have taken many of my friends here. One needs to be comfortable being naked around others and since I had seen Miranda easily go topless in Morocco amongst strangers that were fully clothed, I had no concerns. For $120 plus tip, we were steamed, exfoliated, massaged, and shampooed. Miranda was so funny after the treatments. "I am so soft! I love touching myself? Did you get the boob massage?" She is such a character!

Later on Friday evening, a group of 20 of us met at Dylan Prime. The place has a dark sexy vibe and we were lucky enough to secure a corner table in the back. I tried the steak tartare, scallops, and strip steak. The strip was excellent: chewy and full of flavor. The other dishes were executed fairly but were lackluster. The wines, albeit expensive, were very good. Since this was a large group, I wanted to choose reasonably priced wines that did not break the bank. We started with the 2006 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre. Jolivet produces one of my favorite expressions of Sauvignon Blanc with grassy hints in the nose and elegant citrus undertones on the palate. If you have a chance to visit, Sancerre is one of the most charming towns in the Loire. I ordered the 2001 Château Meyney St-Estèphe next. For the money, I think 2001 Bordeaux are drinking well and represent a good value. There are no first growths in St-Estephe but two second growths, Château Cos D'Estournel and Château Montrose. I love the Cos. The 2001 Château Meyney was classified as a Cru Bourgeois at the time of bottling but the Cru Bourgeois classification system was suspended in 2007 and in July 2007, the use of the term Cru Bourgeois was made illegal. Primarily made with cabernet with merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot providing supporting roles, the wine was sexy, smelled of cassis and graphite with leather and red fruit on the palate. It became very late, very quickly and since couldn't keep our eyes open, we quickly headed home...

Extra Virgin

259 W. 4th Street
New York, NY 10014
at Perry St.

181 Duane Street
New York, NY 10013
nr. Greenwich Street

Yi Pak Spa
10 W 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001
nr. 5th Ave.

Dylan Prime Lounge
62 Laight Street
New York, NY 10013
at Greenwich St.

Extra Virgin in New York
Max in New York
Dylan Prime in New York