Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wine-down Wednesday- Eno Terra II

'12 Days of Christmas' Food ~ Wine ~ Fun! is winding down, and only two more posts to go!

This tenth piece is not just about wine, but about 'Sharing'- Sharing moments with others!

This past year I wrote a piece on a new local establishment, Eno Terra I- Lost Ring Fiasco- In the Princeton area and one of the remaining slivers of farm to table country that give the Garden State its name. Enno Terra is determined to use a philosophy of 'Local, Organic, and Sustainable' foods to their advantage. Has it worked? My second visit to this eatery has proven so.

If local ingredients are not available from the area, they reach out and maintain other sustainable communities. Being a local market 'Purist' is a hard undertaking during winter months in the north east.

Feeling that their approach is an admirable one, but not remembering exactly what they offered, because "uh" the original 'ring fiasco' dominated the memory. So, I decided to return. My other purpose was to try a test to see if they could deliver up great food and wine at a reasonable cost in this economy. Something that could be transferable to our own tables. Can I duplicate, and I mean 'can anyone', because my title does not mean I can cook anything; it just means that I earned my title through trial and error, and many years in my field, and I plan on doing the same with my wine training. So lets take this journey together. I believe it will be a fun undertaking in my future Wednesday posts...

We nestled into our bar seating, on this cold night. I believe that if you prefer up close and personal wine and spirit interaction with the staff that leads to education, the bar is a great place to do your homework! We let the staff know of our intentions, since I take notes, photos, and ask lots of questions. I know annoying, but better than annoying the dining room guests.

We found the entire staff friendly, and willing to help in any way. Gladly letting us try a small sip of this and that, if we were unsure or curious about a wine. I have to share that they bring out a fresh bread basket. Oh many do, but they have an artisan baker slash cheese monger on staff. When you enter the restaurant you first encounter the host/hostess podium, but then behind them is the 'in your face' counter where they prepare the baskets and cheese/charcutterie platters. Okay, now turn back to the right, and I am waiting at the bar.

They also give you a spoonful of this heavy cream butter in the middle of a small roundish curved plate, and they drizzle olive oil over the mound. One of the staff noticed that it was brought out without its garnish of fresh nutmeg as it was meant to be eaten. Oh how right he was, as he sprinkled the nutmeg (creating an aroma of Christmas to match their decor), and then we really tasted a marvelous combination! A job taken seriously!

Midway through sampling food and wine, we had a rather nice gentleman sit to the left of me at the bar, Dan. He confessed to us that he frequent Eno Terra, and enjoyed partaking in their good food and a bottle of good wine. We were impressed at his selection of Brunello, 2000. This is why I love sitting at the bar in most restaurants; unless of course a romantic meal with a significant other is suited for dinning rooms.

Mesmerized as they decanted his bottle in a traditional manner, over the candle, we began discussing Adrienne's bottle of 1999 Brunello aging in her cellar. Dan graciously asked if we would like a glass, and expressed his interest in our endeavors with our education. Great conversation and company topped off our Eno Terra experience.

Thanks Dan, we enjoyed sharing conversation, food and wine!

Bread Basket - Cream Fraishe, Olive Oil, Nutmeg for dipping

First Drop Mother's Milk Syrah/Shiraz from Barossa Valley, Australia 2006

-Perfect together: to coat the palate for the next reds (Our purpose to sample reds, and take notes)

APPETIZER (shared)
Yellowfin Tuna Tartar | Acorn squash, pickled red onions, pumpkin seeds & Merken spice

This was a nice and plentiful dish, but if you are a tuna tartare purist, well it was a bit spicy, and overly manipulated by the squash- both the chunks, and puree as its base. Stepping out of the 'Purist' box is risky and I am up to the challenge, so I would try it again when I am not trying so many wines.

-Pinot Noir and Shiraz were over baring, due to tannins vs spicy.

Fried Artichokes | Lemon, basil & black olive aioli

Wonderful and plentiful dish of deep fried (no crust) artichokes, green and black olives, as well as herbs and lemon slices. The aoili was over the top and gave this dish a touch of perfection!

-This dish paired well with all the wines *see notes below.

 WINE by the Glass- Split
 Zenato, "RIPASSA", DOC 2005

ENTREE (shared)
Chef Special for the night- Whole Roasted Branzino
European Sea Brim |Fingerling Potatoes; Sauteed Spinach; Lemon Mojo
(Lemon Mojo- lemon, black olives, herbs, champagne vinaigrette, EVO)

The whole fish is brought out for guest approval, and I found that a nice touch. Having had bad experiences in the past with Mediterranean chefs cooking whole fish, I was a bit apprehensive. I discovered this was worthy of its high price tag $36.

-Paired well with the Barbera (top favorite), Pinot Noir, and Shiraz.
-Dolcetto was lacking. I felt it just did not have the balance of flavors the Barbera did with this dish.

WINE by the Glass- Split
Green Valley Pinot Noir, MARIMAR ESTATE, "CRISTINA" 2004
1 oz Pour- BARBERA D'ALBA Cavalloto, "BRIC BOSCHIS CUCOLO", DOC 2004
Glass, Compliments of Dan-
Brunello Di Montalcino 'Sangiovese' SIRO PACENTI 2000- Fantastico!!!
(not sure it is even Italian word, but what a treat, Thanks Dan!)

Cheese Taste (and I mean literally a taste, this was killer, thanks! Dan)
St Maure de Torraine Chevre, AOC 1990
(A must try!- made from whole goat milk, is a soft cheese, with gray mold surface.
The pulp is white or ivory, smooth texture and fine of at least 45% fat, is bisected by a straw Rye engraved with the name and designation of certifying the origin of manufacture; it comes in the form of an elongated tapered log- and I cannot stress how it is reminiscent of a brie creamy texture! A must try!)

-Most of the wines would go well with this, but the Brunello being 15 had the right body and balance here.

We found the wine and menu reasonably priced (specials, not included), and portions are hearty enough to share!

Wine Tasting Notes: 

(Bare in mind we kept all wines in front of us throughout the experience) Having tried sips of each wine with each course we were pleased with the staff's recommendations. I however felt the Barbera* paired well with the Sea Brim dish due to flavors of the Champagne Vinaigrette, shallots, and lemon in the sauce. This sauce can overwhelm even a white wine. Later one of the staff did suggest a white Burgundy, but we were on a quest to try reds back to back.

After having the Brunello and Barbera, then going back to the other wines at the end of our meal- we found the earlier pours could not hold up to the big and bolder grapes of Italy; however the Pinot Noir, Rapasso- 'Baby' Amarone, and Shiraz were great wines, and worthy of standing on their own at home with specific menus.

Wine I Recommend Trying At Home:

Green Valley Pinot Noir, MARIMAR ESTATE, "CRISTINA" 2004- Wine Enthusiast 95/100 $37-58 available retail- A wine that is a bit pricey, but recommended as a gift for your holiday party, or dinner
- This outstanding vintage shows engaging aromas of wild berries and chocolate, cinnamon and clove, plus earthy notes of forest floor and bacon, characteristic of the finest burgundies.

DOLCETTO D'ALBA AZ. AGRICOLA SAN MARCO, DOC 2007- Score: 88/100 $20+ retail
- Flavorful, full, fresh and vinous on the palate, with a long finish, this is an appealing, easy-going wine. Color- Intense ruby red in color, and the nose is characteristically ample, fruity, with almond notes.

BARBERA D'ALBA Cavalloto, "BRIC BOSCHIS CUCOLO", DOC 2004- Score: $18-24 comparable, if found via retail, but mainly a restaurant available wine
- Stone fruits, cherry, berries, spices, and plush - medium body

First Drop Mother's Milk Syrah/Shiraz from Barossa Valley, Australia 2006, Score: 90 $20 retail
- Not a sledgehammer style, this Barossa Shiraz is made for drinking! Soft, slurpy and textured it is balanced with good acidity, which refreshes the palate and makes you go back for a second / third glass. Dark ruby red.

Zenato, "RIPASSA" or 'Baby' Amarone, DOC 2005 Score: Wine Spectator $15-30 retail
- Displays a solid core of currant and plum, with a rich, spice- and coffee-stained oak note. Medium- to full-bodied, with fine, fruit-coated tannins and a clean mineral finish. Delicious. One of Veneto's most consistent reds - rich, stone fruits, burned, coffee, berry, cherry, (tree) fruit, dessert, caramel

Disclaimer: Eno Terra was not responsible for our dinner or wine, we paid in full. We followed our 5 S's rules for wine tasting all during the meal, and not all wine was finished (disgraceful I know). Dinner took place during a three hour plus time frame. Consumption of alcohol recommended by most ABC laws- 4 oz of wine, or 1 oz of spirits per hour for the body to absorb and process alcohol (one unit (10ml) of alcohol per hour). Wine-down Wednesday is for education purposes only, Thank you for following us!

We do not endorse, recommend, or promote drinking and driving. If you have over exceeded these limits please call a cab, or arrange for a DD/friend/spouse to give you a ride.

Eno Terra 4484 Kings' Highway (off Rte. 27), Kingston, NJ 08528 | 609.497.1777 | 609.497.1779 (fax)

Interested in attending a Symposium on Wine/Food Writing in Napa Valley?

We have another 'Partner in Wine' joining us and I would like to introduce you to her site full of her own personal tasting notes on wines, Christine @ In Vino We Trust. You may know her from her other blog @Fresh Local and Best. Go over and check out her list of recommendations, and she also attended the Wine Spectator Event in NYC most recently!

PS- I am posting yet another '12 Days of Christmas' at the same time, so I can get on with things I have not been able to do as being I was sick for the past week...'Woodchuck Bourbon Pork Loin'