One of my favorite events on the NYC culinary calendar each year is Brooklyn Uncorked, put on by Edible Magazine. Local-area restaurants and New York State wineries, many from the Finger Lakes and Long Island, set up for an evening at a former bank building in Brooklyn to show guests the breadth of vintages and variety of small plates that they can create. I really enjoy tasting the developments in the wine industry of this state, and, each year, I find more and more wines I’d like to add to my non-existent cellar (or maybe I can find some closet space for them).
As with most events of this size, I didn’t quite get to make it around to every table before the food was gone, but I tasted quite a few wonderful pairings. In some cases, the wineries worked hand-in-hand with the restaurants to create a dish, but in others the matches were done a little bit more on the spot, as I discovered. Some of these worked for me, and some didn’t. Here’s some of the more memorable match-ups of the evening for me, and some of the combinations that I wish had been put together.
Favorite Food & Wine Pairings:
It’s really difficult when one of the first food + wine taste of the evening basically knocks it out of the park for me. The bar for everyone else is then set really high. The Wild Boar Ravioli (ok, so they pretty much had me a “wild boar”) by Marco Polo Ristorante with its amazing aromas coming from the pan in which the portions were being reheated matched with a 2010 “Masseria” Merlot from Scarola Vineyards was the best savory bite I had all evening. The fresh pasta filled with tender, succulent meat dressed in a sauce made with a reduction of the Merlot just hit every right note. A sip of the wine revealed round full tannins and deep red berry and cherry flavors that balanced out each element of the pasta. I thought about going back for more, but then I realized I was only at the start of the evening.
Another food and wine combination that I thought just worked really, really well was the Smoked Salmon nibble by Rose Water Restaurant with the Classic White 2012 by Wölffer Estate, who always turns out amazing wines year after year. The acidity and crispness of the wine beautifully highlighted the buttery richness of the smoked salmon. The citrus notes in the wine and the tartness of the capers and ramp oil pulled this whole bite together. The only other wine I would like to have tried this with, perhaps, is my current pick for Summer 2013 quaff, which is the new 2012 Social Club White, another perfect seafood wine, by Brooklyn Oenology, who was also at this event.
I am so not a fan of sweet wines, and it has taken me quite a bit of time in my wine education to appreciate the subtlety and nuances that many dessert wines can have and how, with the right food, they can actually be delicious and partner very well with food. My favorite dessert pairing of the evening was definitely the Rhubarb Cupcake by The Cleaver Co. with Macari Vineyards 2010 Block E. The tartness of the rhubarb and richness of the brown butter cake were an ideal match for fruit and sweet notes of the wine. The wine itself is done in the ice wine style which gave it a lightness and clean finish that I don’t usually experience with dessert beverages.
Great bites that I wanted to see paired with beer:
I know, I know, this is a wine event, not a beer one. Good Beer Month is still a few weeks away (in July). Still, when I tasted the porky goodness of Gramercy Tavern’s kielbasa dressed with creamy slaw, spicy mustard, and a pop of caraway, I really just wanted to sit down with a whole plate of these around a big table of family and friends, glasses of lager in hand. I mentioned this to Chef Michael Anthony, who was manning the station at the event, and he agreed completely; however, he told me I’d have to talk to the organizers about that. Coincidentally, Brian Halweil, the editor of the magazines, was standing right there. He didn’t comment on my remarks, but we took some time to compare notes on what we’d eaten and drank so far.
Another dish that was just begging to be matched up with beer as well was the Rampwurst with spring pea slaw by The Vanderbilt. I had to give them major creativity points, too, for coming up with another use for ramps, which are now heading out of season, that I’d never tried before. The garlicky-herbal green was perfect mixed into the sausage meat. The cool, crisp slaw with the grassy freshness of the peas was a wonderful combination. This was definitely more of a beer-appropriate than a wine-friendly dish.
Pairings I would have like to have seen:
As I mentioned above, some of the pairings this year just seemed a little bit off to me. The tuna tartare taco from Watty & Meg (of which I could have had a few), needed a great, crisp, aromatic wine to balance out the buttery tuna and the spicy mixed vegetables. When I asked one of the wineries nearby to their table, they didn’t have a beverage that they’d paired up with this dish. My pick would have been the 2001 Taste White from Bedell Cellars with its tropical flavors and slight sweetness to tame those spicy notes and make you go back for bite after bite of the taco.
Another match-up I would have made at the event was to take the dessert wine by Macari Vineyards that I enjoyed so much and tasted it alongside the Olive oil cake with strawberries and mascarpone by Cookshop. I’d heard raves about this dish so even though it was towards the end of the evening, and I felt I’d reached my saturation point on the food and beverage front, something that does happen at these activities, I picked up a plate and walked away to a table to eat it. Moist cake, tart berries, creamy cheese, crunchy nuts all came together in a perfect bite. Unfortunately, many of the stations had been broken down by this point, and they were no longer serving wine, so I couldn’t put my theory to the test.
Most-used seasonal ingredient:
I have to give a special nod to the most-used seasonal ingredient. You guessed it: Ramps! By my count, this product turned up in no fewer than three dishes I tried and was used twice in one of them. It might even have been stealthily included in a few others as well. Next year, I’m expecting to see it in desserts – kidding, really, I’m kidding.
This is a terrific event that continues to bring great food and wine to us each year. The folks I talked to as we nibbled on our dishes and sipped local beverages all seemed to be having a great time and were really impressed by the variety of the wines and the caliber of the food offerings. The only dissent that I heard was that there seemed to be few vegetarian options this year as well as there being lots of dishes containing pork. I sampled so many delicious dishes and drank lots and lots of great wine. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event to see what new vintages New York State wineries will produce.
Thank you to Edible Manhattan for providing me with a press pass so that I could attend this event and cover it for this website. The opinions and tasting notes are mine, as unrefined as they may be, and were not influenced by any of the food or beverage partners or by the magazine and its staff.