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Boston’s restaurant scene is growing at a pace I can barely keep up with, and while trying out new spots is a favorite pastime, there’s nothing I love more than a classic steak house, especially when it sits right on the water.

Last week, on a gorgeous spring evening, I attended the most incredible blogger dinner at Smith & Wollensky Atlantic Wharf, where we indulged in course-after-course, paired with cocktails, their new international wine flights and great conversation.

Aviation Cocktail

The violet hue of this Aviation cocktail, a blend of Sipsmith Gin, Crème de Violette, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and lemon juice went perfectly with the spring weather, and I loved the acidity and slight peppery notes of the drink. Smith & Wollensky always pleases when it comes to cocktail cravings, which is just another thing I love about them. They are incredibly consistent with their quality.

 

wine dinner

Smith & Wollensky Atlantic Wharf has a fantastic waterfront location, and while the inside gives you that gorgeous old steak house vibe, with modern twists like a giant photo of a young Paul McCartney (swoon), the patio is breezy and elegant with lovely views of Boston. While it draws crowds, it doesn’t feel crowded like other patios can.

Our table was set with all of the wine glasses, and as we settled in we started to learn about and taste the white wine flight. 

 white wine flight 

  • Bodega Colomé Torrontes – a light, refreshing wine with Muscat notes redolent of jasmine and orange blossoms.
  • Schloss Johannisberg Gelblack Qualitatswein Feinherb Riesling – a single-vineyard German Riesling wine that is firm and fresh on the palate, well-balanced and crisp acidity. The nose is young with white flowers, grinded lemon peel and pears.
  • Louis Latour Montagny 1er cru “la Grande Roche” Chardonnay- this wine reveals delicious floral aromas of honeysuckle.  Full in the mouth with notes of almond, apricot and pepper, the finish is fresh with a hint of mint.

Wine flights are perfect for discovering new favorites, and for a chance to taste grape varieties with a fresh approach. For example, some people think sweet when they hear the word Riesling or super oaky when they think of Chardonnay, two preconceptions thrown out the window with the above wines.

They were all balanced, refreshing, and most importantly delicious and food-friendly, especially with all of the seafood we devoured. Each also offered something very unique in its flavor profile, making tasting, then going back to taste again really fun.

wine tasting

I didn’t think it could get better after the flight of white wines, but this rosé flight was simply heaven. Long a fan of “Whispering Angel” I savored every sip before being introduced to Domaine De Cala rosés, which were simply gorgeous.

  • Chateau d’Esclans “Whispering Angel” – a Provence rosé with a lovely bright pink color and crystal clarity to the berry flavors.  Powerful yet elegant with plenty of minerality and balanced spice notes. The long finish lingers with white pepper and wisps of red peach.
  • Domaine De Cala Classic – blending Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache red varietals with Rolle white grapes, the French wine greets the nose with aromas of white flower followed by those of exotic fruits- lemony, with notes of peach.
  • Domaine De Cala Prestige – a more exclusive, elevated take on its original rosé. The shiny, clear, salmon-pink color with brilliant reflections entices the palate, and the wine exudes initial aromas of grapefruit and citrus and secondary notes of cherry and strawberry.

Flights are $25 and are available at Smith & Wollensky locations in Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Houston and Miami Beach through June.

seaood tower

Smith & Wollensky is as known for its seafood as much as it is its beef, and we were treated to the freshest raw bar platter with yummy sauces, along with signature dishes, the Angry Shrimp with spicy lobster butter sauce and their tuna tartare, which is my favorite tuna dish anywhere.

 

angry shrimp 

Give me this tuna and one of the spring wine flights, and you basically have my dream lunch.

In fact, I am taking summer Fridays this year, and I will most likely make this happen.

 tuna tartare ribeye carpaccio

Even before our main courses, we were also treated to Smith & Wollensky’s famed beef in different forms, including a delicate Ribeye Carpaccio and the Spring Steak Feature, Snake River Farms American Wagyu New York Strip, presented on a Himalayan Salt Block.

This meat was like butter, and it picked up the salt and mineral flavors of the salt block. This was the ultimate indulgence.

 

wagyu beef 

And there was still more food to come! My coffee and cocoa rubbed filet could have been cut with a spoon, and the flavors of the rub added a little sweetness and earthiness to the meat’s natural flavor. I could only eat a few bites before wrapping this up and bringing it home. . . it made the most delicious dinner the next night!

 

coffee and cocoa rubbed filet mignon

Entrees were enjoyed with a wine that is made specially for Smith & Wollensky. I couldn’t stop breathing this wine in; it reminded me of a place I love so much. Spice, earth, bursts of berry flavor; this is a big, bold, yet elegant Napa Valley red, a perfect pairing with Smith & Wollensky’s food and personality.

Napa Valley Red Wine

Our final course before we said our goodbyes was a colossal dessert plate that, despite being full, I could not say no to. The Chocolate Layer Cake at Smith & Wollensky is worth visiting for alone, and it could easily feed a group. I didn’t make it to the Coconut Cake, so I will have to bring my appetite and a few friends to enjoy that on another occasion.

 

chocolate layer cake  

Smith & Wollensky generously rolled out the red carpet for us and treated us to the food and hospitality they are known for. It definitely was not my first time here, and it certainly won’t be my last.

Whether you are looking for a flight of wine or a perfectly crafted cocktail after work or a place to celebrate an occasion, this is a very special place to do it.

 

Dinner was kindly provided by Smith & Wollensky; all opinions are my own.

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Tags: Boston, steak house, wine, wine dinner, wine event, wine flights, wine tasting

Northern California in all of its gloriousness welcomed us with blue skies and warm sunshine. Our weekend home was the Heritage House Resort in Little River, and it gave us the perfect jumping off spot for exploring areas further north than Sonoma County usually does.

Anderson Valley

On the way up to the Mendocino Coast, we stopped in for a beer tasting at one of our favorite breweries, Anderson Valley Brewing Company for a quick flight and a wander around.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company

I love the brewery’s commitment to the environment and the fact that they are solar-powered. We buy their beer whenever we can find it in the Boston area, and it was amazing to be able to try so many different beers.

Their use of the Boontling language is also fun!

Anderson Valley Brewing Company

 Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Their Blood Orange Gose was perfect for the sunny day and just a really delicious beer. They all were!

When we left Anderson Valley, we headed to the coast, where we spent the rest of the weekend on as many cliffs, beaches, and trails as possible.

Mendocino Coast

Our exploring took us to Mendocino Headlands, where the sea sparkled, then into the fog further north at MacKerricher State Park, where we found dozens of bobbing seals at Laguna Point. They were hard to capture on my phone, but I was pretty excited (jumping up and down excited) to see so many seals in one place.

Mendocino Coa Northern California Laguna Point California

The park had plenty of paths for us to get some exercise in before we stopped to eat and taste beer again.

The Tap Room,Fort Bragg California

The Taproom is a must-visit if you ever get to the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area. Even before it opened, people were lining up by the door, and we knew we’d made a good choice.

The space was super cute and cozy, and we quickly decided to share a beer sampler to get a taste of all that North Coast Brewing had to offer.

beer tasting at The Tap Room

We’re huge fans of Old Rasputin, and we ended up loving every beer on the tray, even the IPAs, which we often don’t like.

The Tap Room beer

We paired our beers with this insanely good ceviche and homemade chips plus plenty of fresh California avocado. . . heaven!

The Tap Room, Fort Bragg

At the suggestion of some locals, we then headed across the street to Pacific Star Winery for a splash of their It’s All My Fault, a delicious blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc,  and Roussanne, named because of the fault running directly beneath the winery.

Pacific Star Winery

The tasting room was so vibrant and beautiful, filled with local art and lovely regulars who were ready and willing to give us recommendations for the area, including sending us to Roundman’s Smokehouse for all sorts of incredible smoked meats, fish, and cheese. I love meeting people when we travel!

Pacific Star, Fort Bragg California

Glass Beach was another one of their recommendations. Glass Beach is a former dump, which, thanks to the trash dumped there years ago, now offers an abundance of sea glass, in addition to stunning views.

Northern California

Glass Beach

Glass Beach

Our time on the Mendocino Coast was simply spectacular, peaceful, and delicious. It was also too short, but I think a lifetime in such a beautiful place would even have you asking for more!

 

Read more travel posts about Northern California on my travel blog post page.

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Tags: Anderson Valley, California, coastal living, Mendocino, Northern California, travel blog, wine, wine tasting

If you live in the Boston area, you probably know about Bin Ends Wine, discount wine stores in Braintree and Needham. Not only do they have an amazing selection and great prices, but they also have a true love, knowledge of, and passion for wine.  They periodically do wine dinners, and over President’s Day weekend, we got a group of friends together to go to their Sonoma wine dinner at The Townshend in Quincy.

The Townshend

wine dinner

Gundlach Bundschu Gewurtztraminer

 

scallop crudo

first course
smoked scallop crudo
served with pickled fresno pepper / pork rinds / cilantro
2013 Gundlach Bundschu Gewurtztraminer
"Estate" Sonoma Coast

This was easily my favorite pairing of the night. We love Gundlach Bundschu and have visited many times on trips to Sonoma County. Any sort of crudo is up my alley, and the wine was bright, crisp, and made the dish pop with notes of grapefruit and lemon.

croquette

second course
pork croquette
served with parsnip / gremolata / bone marrow
2014 Raeburn Winery Chardonnay
Russian River Valley

The second course paired a buttery Chardonnay from Raeburn (also a new favorite) with a rich pork and parsnip dish. The vanilla notes in the wine were lovely with the creamy parsnip, another spot-on pairing, and one that was great for a cold Sunday evening. 

lamb  

third course
braised bone-in lamb shank
served with cappellacci / golden raisin / oregano
2011 Donelan Family Wines Syrah
"Walker Vine Hill Vyd" Russian River Valley

Talk about Sunday supper food. . . the third pairing was a hearty, fall-of-the-bone lamb shank with a delicious Syrah from Donelan Family Vineyards. Spice and chocolate and berry notes made for the perfect fireside sipper and a great pairing with the very rich main course.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee  

dessert course
mini "Ghirardelli" sundae
cocoa waffle cone bowl, caramelized white chocolate ice cream, salted caramel chocolate sauce, praline tuille 
  Prepared By Pastry Chef Kate Holochick
Served with The Townshend’s Irish Coffee

At this point I could have rolled out of The Townshend, but we had a San Francisco treat to finish off the evening. A Buena Vista-style Irish coffee and a homemade Ghirardelli Sundae put me in the frame of mind to head to the West Coast and wander the lovely Ghirdardelli Square (which I did just a few weeks later). Easily one of the best desserts I have had in a long time, and the Irish coffee was a sweet and potent way to end the night.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee

After this experience, I really can’t recommend these events enough. It was so much fun, and I hope Bin Ends and The Townshend collaborate again for something similar.

Since I just returned from a visit to Northern California, I have quite a few San Francisco and other posts to share. . . stay tuned!

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Tags: California, Food, food blog, Quincy, Restaurants, Sonoma, travel blog, wine, wine blog

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