Laurain Aydinian, die-hard foodie


Hamptons Eats:Riesling or Pinot Noir…enJoie offers Thanksgiving wine pairing advice
Judia Black of enJoie, a wine and lifestyle events company, hosted a tasty, and very informative Thanksgiving wine pairing at Minton’s in Harlem this past Saturday. The class provided examples of wine to be enjoyed with a variety of dishes typically served on Thanksgiving Day. Attendees explored how to navigate the wines’ many different personalities, similarly to adjusting and interacting with the many personalities of guests who attend Thanksgiving dinner. The wines were American grown in celebration of the American holiday and were prime examples that there is no need to look over the pond for quality wine, but right in our own backyard.

The class consisted of six tastings. Each guest received an informational sheet that listed the wines in the order they were to be tasted. Kicking things off was a sparking wine from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Next was a light and neutral Riesling from the Finger Lakes. Following was a full-bodied Chardonnay, which pairs nicely with creamy cheeses. The California Pinot Noir and Zinfandel were crowd favorites. The grand finale, and icing on the cake, so to speak, was an Iced Cider, a dessert wine made of apples, which were picked, pressed, frozen, and fermented in Vermont.2

A spread of wine-compatible snacks was provided to accompany the tastings. The French Stilton Bleu, from the infamous Murray’s Cheese, went nicely with the Zinfandel. A Swiss triple-crème Brie from Murray’s was a perfect match for the Pinot Noir. Toasted baguettes, blanched almonds, and apricots were also snacked.

If planning to pair wine with a Thanksgiving meal, here are some suggestions based on the selection from the class. The sparkling wine pairs well with appetizers; anything from crab cakes, to caviar. If squash or sweet potato dishes are on the menu, the Riesling or Chardonnay will be a great match. The Zinfandel collaborates well with strong cheeses, pork, and poultry. And for the turkey, this Pinot Noir can never go wrong. 1
A memorable moment, one that encompassed the significance of enjoying wine on Thanksgiving, was when Judia mentioned applying our five senses. Of the five, the sense of hearing is perhaps the most difficult to find a connection to when drinking. After some thought, the class shared ideas which included the sound of pouring wine and the sound of a cork popping. Judia’s theory is that the fifth sense is applied as we enjoy the wine and listen to those who surround us and create the environment. As we taste the wine and listen to the conversations and sounds of the friends and family we share with, it creates a complete experience. On Thanksgiving we are surrounded by loved ones, delicious comforting food, and perfectly paired wine. What’s more to be thankful for than that?

3Please see a list of the wines mentioned above:
Gruet Blance Noirs, Brut NV, Pinot Noir, Albuquerque, New Mexico
2013 Ryan Williams Reisling, Finger Lakes, New York
2012 Adele, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California
2012 Artesa, Pinot Noir, Carneros Region of Napa, California
2012 Brown Estate, Zinfandel, Napa, California
Eden Northern Spy, Northern Spy Apples, West Charleston, Vermont

For a wonderful selection of wines visit Sag Harbor Liquor Store….FREE DELIVERY…they also offer a 15 % discount off mixed cases of wine and sparkling

Cutchogue: Bedell Cellars First Crush
On a shockingly bitter cold Tuesday in November, Bedell Cellars of Cutchogue held an exciting launch party celebrating the release of Bedell First Crush Red 2013 and the winery’s collaboration with artist Mickalene Thomas; who’s art proudly decorates the bottle. The expected 200 guests stayed warm at the Four Seasons in NYC and indulged in a variety of Bedell wines in suitable honor of the winery.

Bedell Cellars’ owner and Hollywood film producer Michael Lynne, mingled with guests with a smile on his face that never faltered. Among those invited were several whom are well known in the art and entertainment community including Stacy Engman, a curator at the National Arts Club in New York; Mashonda Tefiere, previously married to musical artist Swizz Beats; and Will Cotton, a famous painter whose inspiration is sourced from Katy Perry.

The 2013 First Crush is an exquisite blend of 60% merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, from grapes picked from younger vines. Lettie Teague of The Wall Street Journal describes it as, “A light juicy blend, pretty, uncomplicated, marked by soft tannins and bright red berry fruit.” It is absolutely delicious and delightfully smooth. Among other wines poured were an oak barreled chardonnay, a stainless steel chardonnay, and the Musée, another red blend with heavy, velvety tannins and a long finish. 3-2

Accompanying the wine were elegant hor dourves of steak carpaccio with truffle oil, seared tuna with mango chutney, duck wontons, and fried oysters among several others. Guests reacted very positively grabbing bites just as quickly as wine was being poured. Each food passed was more delicious than the last and thankfully were not in short supply.

Some time into the evening, Michael Lynne addressed the attendees, announcing the release of First Crush and introducing Mickalene Thomas whom also spoke to the crowd of the wine and her artwork. She described First Crush as being very easy to drink and would also make for an excellent art piece after drinking! Both speakers radiated positive energy and the crowd gave a loud and long applause to honor the collaboration. 4-2

The evening was a lovely celebratory event of art, great food, and excellent wine. To name this newly launched Bedell wine First Crush is an understatement. It truly seems more appropriate to be titled “First Love.”

NYC Happenings: Paul’s on Time Square
Paul Nicaj and Dino Redzic know hospitality like the back of their hands and they proved just how well they know it at the grand opening party for their new restaurant “Paul’s on Time Square.” The two industry giants held a warm and welcoming event at the Hilton Garden on 42nd Street last Wednesday to celebrate their newest project, and the hotel’s featured restaurant, described as a destination for Italian fare with a global touch. FullSizeRender(2)

The party kicked off several stories up in a cozy lounge with a fireplace, tables for both communal and private seating, and an outdoor terrace. Champagne and wine was poured and complimented the extravagant spread of Italian meats and cheeses as well as an assortment of fruits and nuts.FullSizeRender(3)
The main dish was a whole baked branzino, delicately cut and served to guests whom were eager to try. The hor dourves passed included mini caprese skewers, bruschetta bites, crab cakes, and margharita pizza slices. All seemed to enjoy the food, the atmosphere, and the company.

Drawing a crowd next to the main bar was New York City’s first “SmartTender,” a revolutionary automated bartending system. Guests, myself included, were instructed on how to try the new bar toy. The touchscreen displays the list of spirit options. By touching the screen to choose, the patron then selects a mixer such as cranberry juice, pineapple juice, Coca-Cola, etc. Next, the SmartTender prompts the guest to choose an additive if preferred. Those listed were seltzer, orange bitters and lime juice, to name a few. The final step in the process is the option of adding an additional shot of alcohol and then it’s time to pour. The SmartTender registers the guests’ choices and pours a proportionally correct beverage into a glass positioned below the machine’s dispenser. Viola! A cocktail made to your liking in 30 seconds.FullSizeRender(4)

With my new “smart” made drink in hand, I made my way through the crowd and came upon Paul and Dino’s private table where they sat with, whom I presumed to be, close friends and family. I sat at a table close by and glanced in their direction noticing the plates of meatballs, shrimp cocktail, and other dishes that filled the table. Everything looked delicious and I could not refrain myself from commenting on the spread that lay out in front of them.

My remark did not go unheard and was responded to by Paul and Dino offering me to indulge in the food before them. “Please, please, eat,” I heard either Paul or Dino exclaim, pushing the plates towards me. And although I was not entirely sure which of these gentlemen made this hospitable notion towards me, I was too pleasantly surprised by the gesture to care. To the guests and myself, the event was for Paul and Dino- to celebrate the opening of “Paul’s” and their success in the industry. Yet to Paul and Dino, as it became very clear to me then, the night was for their guests and their customers, and at any time, even at their own celebration, they would make sure to show great hospitality.FullSizeRender

Photo credit: Laurain Aydinian

NYC Happenings Maserati 2015 unveiling

Cool cars. Very cool cars. And let’s not forget to mention the motorcycles and helicopter. These were the main attractions at the Maserati 2015 unveiling party; arguably a dream come true to those with an interest in fast engines and even those without one. The Luxury Review event, presented by RAND Luxury, was an exclusive press and media gathering that showcased the latest in luxury products. The unveiling was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan on October 2 and although it featured some of the hottest new vehicles to hit the market, this event made sure not to draw the line there. Helicopter
Upon arrival members were welcomed with a glass of champagne, just a taste of the luxuries that were in store for them. WineA small stage was assembled with a red carpet and a Maserati backdrop where attendees lined up for the option of having their picture taken by a professional photographer. The venue opened to a large hall lined with invited vendors whom offered information and conversation on their luxury items; those of which included cigars, whiskey, Rolex, and gemstone jewelry. A new age, and seemingly futuristic, helicopter was positioned in the middle of the room and posed as both a surprise and a great conversation starter. In addition, motorcycles; like pieces of art, decorated the venue with their exotic looking models.
Meat&CheeseBetween visits to the vendor stations, guests sampled from a meat and cheese spread provided by Rana, of Rana Pastificio Cucina in Chelsea, and sipped wine from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, which offered tastings of red and white. Rana additionally catered a pasta station and distributed samples of their tortellini with pancetta as well as rigatoni in lobster sauce. Across the room several bars were set to serve additional beverages including sangria, margaritas, and specialty cocktails by Double Cross Vodka.
As guests had their fill of food and drink, the time then came to unveil the luxury goods. An announcement was made directing guests to the covered Maserati in the center of the floor. The crowd gathered in anticipation with cameras ready. After some words on the vehicle and an introduction of the 2015 model, the covering was lifted and the Maserati revealed. The engine was revved and proved to be quite the crowd pleaser. There were photo opportunities and people approached the car, some even having the chance to open the doors and explore the interior. The unveilings occurred within 15-minute intervals of each other with a white Lamborghini up next. The same procession occurred with the remaining luxury vehicles scheduled to be on display. Lambo
With each unveiling the crowd’s energy revved like the engines of the glamorous cars they were there to admire. Overall the evening went off without a hitch and RAND Luxury genuinely showed their members they know how to ride in style.

All photos by Laurain Aydinian

Hamptons Eats: Stirring the Pot: Conversations with Culinary Celebrities, was held at Guild Hall in East Hampton on 3 different Sundays this summer. The third and final event of the series featured Daniel Boulud, internationally renowned French chef and owner of over 16 restaurants, including Daniel in New York City.

The event began with a meet-and-greet brunch with Daniel. Complementary glasses of sparking wine were provided by Cantí Prosecco as well as virgin sangria cocktails by Baì teas and an espresso bar sponsored by Nespresso. photo 1
Brunch bites were made by Food Gourmet East Hampton and included salmon and goat cheese crostinis as well as a variety of vegetable frittatas. As food and beverages were enjoyed, Chef Daniel mingled through the crowd, engaging in conversations, and taking photos with fans. photo 2

Following brunch was a conversation with the chef in the John Drew theatre hosted by Florence Fabricant, a food writer and columnist who contributes to the New York Times dining section. The interview played out well with interesting questions and smooth transitions. Florence mentioned Daniel’s new book Letter to a Young Chef, available for signing, and touched upon significant points in his life in which Daniel expanded on, taking us through a series of experiences from the beginning of his journey to the present.

A highlight and perhaps most memorable moment, in which the audience reacted with attention and interest, was in his description of how he prefers to cook a striped bass. Bass is currently in-season and also native to these Hamptons waters so the conversation became very relatable to the group. Daniel exclaimed that he would not cook the bass in an oven but over a wide open grill, stuffed with a variety of herbs such as coriander and thyme, and dressed with sliced lemons and a drizzle of olive oil. The fish would sit upon a bed of salt above the fire to help seal in the juices and provide a lovely smoky flavor.

In the last 20 minutes audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions of their own. By the end, Daniel wrapped up the discussion by giving advice to a young aspiring chef on how to start and what to focus on to be successful. Tips included learn basic knife skills, follow cookbooks precisely, get experience in a kitchen working with a good chef, and one we have all heard before; practice.
From beginning to end chef Daniel was charming, humorous, and engaging. He seemed quite down-to-earth for the success he’s acquired and the empire he’s built, and because of this, proved himself quite admirable. Needless to say I have promised my next dinner out in New York to be at Daniel.