Since my friend, Jeanette, decided to stop by for a visit (from Australia, no less), a dinner at Bin 14 was necessary. I circled the wagons, gathered the troops and this past Friday night, 7 of us enjoyed the culinary stylings of the Bin 14 kitchen.
As always, it was an absolute treat. As always, I was handed the wine list by my friends with the directive to "pick something good." And as always, this scared the crap out of me. I'm o.k. if I pick a crap wine for me, but I hate the thought of ruining someone else's dinner. To that end, I was going to go with an old standby, Stickleback, which my friend and Bin 14 regular, Rachel, assured us was on the menu "as of two weeks ago." Unfortunately two week old information -- not so good. Bin 14 no longer had the Stickleback. After trying a few other options, I took a flyer on Cimicky Grenache/Syrah from the Barossa Valley in Australia. Grenache/Syrah is the traditional French Rhone blend, but a lot of winemakers in other wine regions have adopted this wonderful blend. Grenache and Syrah are like the peanut butter and jelly of wine (with less nutty and jammy notes).
The Cimicky went over really well. It was light, yet full of bright fruit. Though Grenache made up 2/3 of the blend, the spice and fruit of the Syrah came through. Moreover, it was not overly alcoholic tasting as high percentage Grenache wines can be. Altogether a lovely complement to the melange of pizzas, salads, steak, bruschetta and risotto balls we devoured. This is easily one of the better Australian value wines I've had (at retail this is around $15).
More importantly, we didn't talk about octogenarian sex this time, which was also a refreshing change of pace. We all enjoyed Wendy's stories about her rave days, Genna's 1960s throwback attitude, Joanna's discussion of her husband's tennis addiction and Laurie's infectious laughter (best audience EVER) as Rachel tried to hide her "admiration" for a certain bartender.
But wait, there's more! When you have a friend in town, you get to do all the toursity stuff you've never actually done but often make fun of people for. Earlier today, Jeanette and I met up with Laurie and Wendy for some Central Park ice skating. Actually, we found out with Laurie's "mad blade skills," that she has logged some serious hours at the ice rink at Central Park. In any event, after a hard 45 minutes of skating, Laurie and Wendy ran off to catch a movie while Jeanette and I decided that all of the energy we expended called for an afternoon cocktail. We made our way to the Stone Rose at the Time Warner Center. It's one of my favorite lounges. Sure it's over-priced, but it's nice and quiet and the views and the service are terrific. On the other hand, their wine list leaves much to be desired. Jeanette had a lovely Malbec. I forget who makes it. I had a MacMurray Pinot Noir. It was o.k. Fairly average. Gets the job done, but isn't the most interesting Pinot, let alone red wine, out there.
Unfortunately, we were a bit wined out by the time we made it to dinner so we skipped the grape juice. We stopped in at a hole in the wall bar afterwards and I'm happy to report that my view on the quality of wine at hole in the wall bars still stands. It sucks.
Well, until the next tourist moment or sniff, sip or quaff,