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Tribeca Grill: Tasting Event Courtesy of Rue La La

7 Sep

Sometimes I look around and truly realize that I live a charmed life.  This blog has provided opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined. I have been invited to amazing complimentary dinners, been awarded a free Kodak Gallery book, and been given many opportunities to try new products.  Recently, I received an invite from Rue La La to enjoy a complimentary dinner and wine tasting at TriBeCa Grill.  I wasn’t quite sure what it would be, but they said I would be sitting with other bloggers and enjoying a meal and wine directly from the vineyard.  I was in!  Why not?

I had been to the TriBeCa Grill once before, for Restaurant Week, and had a so-so experience.  I was happy to have the opportunity to try it again.  And I recently found out that Robert De Niro was a co-owner, so if Vito Corleone approves, I had to give it a second shot.

I arrived and quickly learned that this was actually an event that Rue La La offered from their NYC Local site where many people bought into this opportunity.  I was even more humbled to have been invited as I sat at a round table with 3 other couples.  They were all surprised to hear that I blog about food and it led to some fun conversation throughout the night.  I was the only single person at a table of couples.  This was one of those moments that I was happy that I have no problem being chatty.

The menu looked great, and I did the usual schpiel with the waiter about peppers.  He said it wouldn’t be an issue.




The wine was supplied from Joseph Drouhin vineyard and one of the brothers from the family that owned the vineyard, Laurent Drouhin, was there to tell us about the wines.  He was an absolute charmer, with great charisma that really captivated everyone’s attention as he spoke.  All learned that all Burgundy is really Pinot Noir (red) or Chardonnay (white).  Suddenly it made sense that I have recently found a fondness for Pinot Noir, seeing as though I have always been a Burgundy fan.  We learned a lot about the vineyard, including that in 2009 it was certified organic, making them the largest landowners to be certified.  We heard some great quips from those that make wine, including “When I see my dogs eating the berries, I know [the wine] is ready.”


The chef also came out to say hello, however, he seemed more on the shy side.


As we waited, we were served awesome chardonnay (Saint Veran) which he described as “beachy,” which was apropos.   There were numerous passed hors d’vors, including some awesome short rib pot stickers.

Our first item on the menu was diver sea scallop carpaccio with yuzu raita and sea urchin vinaigrette, paired with Drouhin Vaudon CHablis ‘Premier Cru’ 2008.  Sadly, I was so into the chat that I completely forgot to take a picture.  I also didn’t get the sea urchin vinaigrette due to my allergy, which as a bummer, but it was delicious.  It was summery, fresh, and creamy with a slightly grassy note. The cucumber with it was great but mine seamed to be missing the yuzu sauce.  The wine was grown in a cold climate, in a chalky and limestone soil.  It was good on its own, but it really sang when paired with the scallops.

Our next item was the Mushroom Crusted Halibut with gulf shrimp raviolini and lobster consomme.  It was supposed to look like this…


But mine came out without the mushroom crust and without the raviolini.  I was disappointed by this fact, and quickly realized that they thought my allergy was to BLACK pepper as well as the vegetable peppers.  This is the most annoying part about my allergy.  In every language, black pepper and peppers are the same word.  But they are not related.  I cleared it up with the waiter immediately, but it wasn’t in time to get that raviolini back on this plate.  This fish was, sadly, overcooked. But the consomme was sensational.  Looking back, I wished I hadn’t eaten this entire piece of fish, as it was the worst thing all night (since it was overcooked) and I wound up far too full by the end of the evening.

The wine that was paired was a Drouhin Beaune ‘Clos des Mouches’ Blanc 2008.  The story of this wine was interesting.  It was on the 1st vineyard the family purchased and it was actually produced by accident.  In 1928, they were only producing red wine and told the pictures not to pick the white wine grapes yet because they were not yet ripe.  Some white wound up mixed in with the red, and when they tasted this white, they loved it.  It became the housewine for the famous restaurant in France, Maxine.  The name translates to “enclosure for flies,” however, flies were really bees (honey flies) and it happened that there were many in this area. It was smoky and long lasting.  One of my favorites of the evening.


Next was the currant glazed duck.  It came with summer truffle and a duck leg confit croquette along with herb roasted heirloom carrots.  I thought it was a very well composed dish, with a great balance of sweet with the fattiness of the duck.  The carrots were garlicky and awesome and the croquette sang to me.  Some found the currant glaze too sweet, but it was right up my alley.

The wine was the Drouhin Savigny-les-Beaune ‘Clos des Godeaux’ 2009.  It was from a vineyard that was purchased by the family in 2009 and was fruity and smelled like my Grandmother’s Italian Plum Pie.  It was my second favorite of the evening.  We were informed that the 9s were very good for wine years, and 2009 was one of the best in the last 110 years in the Burgundy region. I agreed.


We then were presented with a selection of artisanal cheeses (Coupole from Vermont, Le Marecha from Switzerland, Ubriaco Speciale from Veneto, Italy, and Cantalet from Auvergne, France).  I honesty couldn’t tell you which was which, but they were all great.  And made even better by the fig jam, quince paste, and raisin walnut bread it was served with. That bread was simply scrumptious!

The cheeses were actually served with 2 red wines.  One was the Drouhin Clos de Vougeot 2004.  I thought this was a bit strong and almost blotted out the flavor of the cheese.  The second wine was produced just 5 miles away, but was completely differently.  I really loved the Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny ‘Premier Cru’ 2003.  I thought it was fantastic and my top wine of the evening.  It smelled a bit like port and I thought it was the perfect foil for the cheeses.  Interesting, Laurent Drouhin asked the room who liked which one.  1/3 were with me, and 2/3 preferred the first wine.  He made the point well that wine preferences are very personal.


Our final dish of the evening was a strawberry cheesecake with strawberry rhubarb sorbet.  This was… unnatural.  The color was a little too fake and the taste reminded me of fruit loops.  I couldn’t get past it and didn’t really enjoy this (which is strange for a dessert lover like me).  Someone else mentioned that it tasted like those Hostess packaged strawberry treats.  Neither comparison was something I would want my dessert to taste like.  It was a shame after such a lovely meal.


Our table left very satisfied, and the number of glasses we amounted over the course of the evening amused me.


Overall, both the food and wine at this event were fantastic.  I’m really thrilled to have been invited and this definitely elevated my perception of the restaurant.  Laurent Drouhin said the wines were made to be “Food Friendly” and he was absolutely right.  I will pursue these wines and hope I can find them in local stores.  (If only I could figure out how to pronounce them).  I’m bummed that my allergy mix-up at the beginning meant I didn’t get to try things the way they were intended, however, even without that it was great.  I will make a point of going back here.

And I have to thank Rue La La for being so good to local bloggers and inviting us out to this event.  There was a handful of us in attendance, and we all enjoyed ourselves very much.  I have purchased a number of local packages from Rue La La (and don’t even get me started on how many pairs of shoes have been shipped my way courtesy of their shopping site) and have always found them to be one of the better “deals” sites.  This event was personal and professional and all around delicious.  They just recently launched local editions in Chicago and Miami and I highly encourage you to check out their site to see if they have deals in your area.

Thank you again to TriBeCa Grill, Joseph Drouhin Wines, and Rue La La for reserving a seat for me at this dinner.  It was NomAlicious!