PLUS A VISIT FROM THE GREEN FAIRY, GINNED UP READING… AND WHAT WE MISS
The mitigation migration from New York City’s high-rent ZIP Codes began very early. Now, in some parts of town, it looks like an exodus. The sunny destination: the Hamptons and the North Fork of Long Island.
The seasonal arrival this year is, depending your address and point of view, as welcome as $2 trillion or murder hornets. But the weekend’s jump-start of summer promises some good, if socially distanced times, and enough uncorking to loosen up any lockdown.
There’s a lot of local wine beckoning. The East End is home to more than 50 wineries, which make some of the best vino around, not only in hot-spot range. Here are some standout whites.
One of the top producers is Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue. Among its distinctive and delightful wines is the 2019 Paumanok Chenin Blanc (★★★ $29). It’s a rarity, locally and nationwide, made from the grape at home in the Loire Valley and South Africa. Winemaker Kareem Massoud’s production is fresh, expressive, full of tropical fruit and citrus, a partner for dishes as varied as well-dressed salads and cream-sauced, white finfish.
The 2019 Paumanok Dry Riesling and Semi Dry Riesling (★★★ and $22 each) also are fruity and lively choices, dependably first-class year after year. The dry version delivers hints of tart apple and citrus; the semi dry, peach and nectarine. They’re both fine foils for spicy fare, including many preparations of seafood and pork.
From Wolffer Estate, an outstanding Hamptonian in Sagaponack, comes the 2019 “Summer in a Bottle” White (★★ $26) a peachy, juicy, and floral winner, minerally and bright that would be at home poolside or, when open, a beach. Winemaker Roman Roth’s versatile, five-grape blend is mostly chardonnay and gewürztraminer, with riesling, sauvignon blanc, and pinot blanc. Recommended on its own or with seafood, raw or cooked. In a new, handsomely designed, exceedingly summery bottle.
Under his excellent The Grapes of Roth private label, the Wolffer Estate winemaker produces a vibrant, stylish 2018 Dry Riesling (★★★ $26), balanced and floral, with a minerally finish. Try it with Asian cuisine as well as simply prepared shellfish and chicken dishes.
Moving to Napa Valley, invest in the 2018 Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc (★★ $26), loaded with citrus and tropical fruit, defining acidity and minerality. Uncork it whether you’re serving fried chicken, crab cakes, raw oysters, or main-course salads. The 2018 Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay (★★★ $38.50) is a stirring selection, rich and ripe, with apple and peach. It’s a companion for shellfish, white finfish, veal, and chicken.
Bargain-priced and offering much: the round, bright 2017 Glenelly Estate Glass Collection Unoaked Chardonnay (★★★ $15), with a taste of tropical fruit, melon, and pear. The Stellenbosch, South African wine works as a sipper and with shrimp, lobster, and chicken, broiled, grilled or fried.
An exceptional deal as well as a terrific white wine is the 2019 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc (★★★ $25) from Marlborough, New Zealand. This racy, flinty wine harvests tropical fruit and citrus. Also from Marlborough is the citrusy, satisfying, and especially environmentally sensitive 2019 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc (★ $20). Both go with shellfish and finfish, including as sushi or ceviche.
If you’re grilling red meat for the holiday, shiraz is one of the big wines to pour.
The 2017 Wirra Wirra Catapult Elevated Vineyards Shiraz (★★ $27) from McLaren Vale, Australia is buoyantly set to complement everything from hamburgers to strip steaks, skirt-steak fajitas to flank-steak sandwiches. And it’s adaptable enough for chicken and turkey, too. The 2018 Yalumba Shiraz (★ $19) from South Australia has a hint of pepperiness and spice to accompany beef any style. Full-bodied and drink able this minute.
Anyone not a shiraz fan can down the hearty 2017 Tasca d’Almerita Tenuta Regaleali “Guarnaccio” Perricone (★★ $20), a spirited, soulful Sicilian made for grilled steaks, particularly rib-eye and hanger cuts, boldly seasoned or with red-wine sauce.
Two wines priced to sell and good to drink with beef are the 2018 Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon (★ $12), with plum and cassis notes, from Chile’s Maipo Valley; and the 2017 High Note Malbec (★ $12) from Mendoza, Argentina, rife with red fruit, spice, and a tease of vanilla.
BEER, NON-ALCOHOL AND NOT
Burgers and hot dogs are a natural with beers.
The Chicago-style hot dog, a Vienna beef number on a poppyseed bun, capped with yellow mustard, sweet pickle relish, chopped onion, wedges of tomato, a spear of dill pickle, medium-hot sport pepper, and celery salt can be a challenge. The New York dog: onion relish, sauerkraut, onion sauce, and spicy brown mustard.
Some favorite brews to go with these and other dogs, and bacon cheeseburgers, too, take in Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Dos Equis Lager Especial, Ommegang Abbey Ale, Brooklyn Lager and Brown Ale and Montauk Brewing ‘s Wave Chaser India Pale Ale and its Summer Ale.
The non-alcohol beer market has had its successful and dreadful entries. A new one by Bravus Brewing Co. bills itself as a “non-alcoholic craft beer,” and it tastes better than countless competitors. The Bravus near-beers come in at 100 calories per 12-oz. serving and less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. The styles include an India Pale Ale, an Amber Ale, an Oatmeal Stout, a White Ale, a Raspberry Gose, and the newest, a crisp and light brew that suggests Corona, Pacifico, and Model. They’re all worth sampling. Pick the mixed six-pack, for $10.99.
La Fee Verte
“The Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis’ book of 31 such epistles is from the namesake demon to his nephew, Wormwood. They’re lessons in leading people astray, from goodness to Satan. Wormwood also is a main ingredient in absinthe, the very potent, anise-flavored liquor. It’s a botanical that includes thujone, which measures the content of wormwood.
Absinthe has been illegal over the years because of high thujone levels. In the United States, it was banned in 1912 because it was considered toxic. With regulated thujone levels, is was made legal here in 2007.
The beverage has been called “The Green Fairy’ because of the hue imparted by green anise. The drink has a history of famous fans, including Vincent van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud, Edouard Manet and Marilyn Manson.
It once was considered hallucinatory. It’s not.
Absente – Absinthe Refined is a modern incarnation of the original, with a balance of wormwood, anise, mint, and more.
The 110-proof liquor can be savored the old-fashioned way. That requires a slotted spoon – some are very Belle Epoque. Top the spoon with a sugar cube. Rest the spoon on a glass of Absente. Drip chilled water over the sugar cube until the cube dissolves and the water sweetens the drink. The ratio is four to six parts water to one part of Absente. Then, stir it and imbibe.
Or drink it in a cocktail. Absente suggests one dubbed “Gentle Revolution.” Combine one-half ounce Absente, one-and-one half ounce mezcal, one-half ounce Becherovka (an herbal bitter), one-quarter ounce simple syrup, three-quarters ounce lemon juice, and three dashes orange flower water. Shake with ice, strain, serve over pebble ice with a cherry.
Marilyn would approve.
Absente – Absinthe Redefined (★★ in van Gogh gift box with spoon, $50; 750ml bottle, $42; a 100ml bottle, $9.99).
“Sip” (Mitchell Beazley/Hachette, $19.99) by Sipsmith London, a craft gin producer, brings you 100 gin cocktails that use only three ingredients. The master distiller is Jared Brown. There also are sections on the need for balance, the history of gin, bar tools, glassware. The Limoncello Collins, Summer Fizz, and, of course, the dry martini have their special appeal. You’ll toast soon.
So, you’ve memorized the replays of classic ballgames on ESPN and MLB. And you still haven’t gotten very excited by the Korean Baseball Organization, even when the LG Twins are facing the Doosan Bears or the Samsung Lions battle the KIA Tigers. You’ve yet to consider drafting a fantasy baseball team for a Korean league.
That leaves you with baseball movies.
While waiting for a shortened season to start, or just lamenting the likelihood of no baseball, view Ken Burns’ grand-slam 1994 PBS series, “Baseball.” Nine parts, plus a top and bottom of a tenth update aired in 2010.
It’s easy to pick “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942), for Gary Cooper’s delivery of the Lou Gehrig speech; “The Natural” (1984), turning Bernard Malamud’s tale upbeat, with Robert Redford’s homer hitting the stadium lights; “Fear Strikes Out” (1957), for Anthony Perkins’ performance; “Field of Dreams” (1989), about possibility and the hope of seeing Mike Trout swing this season against Gerrit Cole.
But try these. Even if you’ve seen them before.
“A League of Their Own” (1992), about the All-American Girls Baseball League, created during World War II. Starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, David Strathairn. Remember: “There’s no crying in baseball.” Directed with heart by Penny Marshall.
“Bull Durham” (1988), about minor-league ball, part rom-com and all in, with a stellar script. Starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins as Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, a fire thrower with no control. Until. Wryly directed by Ron Shelton.
“Moneyball” (2011), about trying to rebuild the Oakland A’s with sabermetrics and risk. Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt. Directed like a manager by Bennett Miller.
“Major League” (1989), about can-do attitude and comedy. Starring Tom Berenger, Rene Russo, Wesley Snipes, James Gammon, Bob Uecker in the Cleveland Indians booth, and Charlie Sheen as Ricky Vaughn going to the mound to “Wild Thing.” Directed sharply by David S. Ward.
They’re all hits.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
For 34 years, Peter Gianotti reviewed wines, spirits, restaurants, and books at Newsday. He twice won Press Club of New York awards for food writing. Before he became a food critic, Gianotti was a Washington correspondent, a financial writer, and New York City reporter for the newspaper. His books include “Food Lovers’ Guide to Long Island” and “A Guide to Long Island Wine Country.” Gianotti received his B.A. from Fordham University, where he taught journalism; and his M.S. from Columbia University, where he also was a Bagehot Fellow. Harry, his Creamsicle-hued assistant, prefers the bouquets of riesling and pinot noir.