y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: Sips, Swirls and Comfort Food at Vinoteque and The Foundry

Sips, Swirls and Comfort Food at Vinoteque and The Foundry

A couple of months ago I enjoyed a wonderful evening at Vinoteque on Melrose wine bar and restaurant, followed by comfort food dinner next door from The Foundry on Melrose's bar menu.

Vinoteque Sip and Swirl Oct11_group

At Vinoteque, which I'd been to and enjoyed great tastings and food, I attended one of their Sip n Swirls events (click on the link to read their current schedule). The events offer three or more wine tastings along with small bites of food by Chef Sheila R. Gomez.

Vinoteque Sip and Swirl Oct11_Ryan a

Vinoteque's charming European ambiance and indoor/outdoor setting provide enough incentive to try the place, but in my opinion, Sommelier Ryan Hess enriches the experience with his charming Irish gift of gab and extensive knowledge about their 350 bottle wine collection.

I've been riveted to every word whenever he's spoken at these tastings.

Vinoteque Sip and Swirl Oct11_wine 1 S African 2007 Viogner

This particular Sip n Swirl theme of Pairing Food & Wine, accompanied with notes to take away, began with the advice to "drink what you like". That has always been my philosophy as I enjoy tasting more than studying and talking.

We were also advised to think about the dish or meal and its dominant characteristics, such as mildness vs. flavor, fatty vs. lean, rich vs. acidic. The idea being to keep the flavors in balance. Mild with mild. Big with big. Rich with rich.

 Vinoteque Sip and Swirl Oct11_Viogner adn talleggio

Our first taste was a 2007 South African Viognier paired with triple cream, semi-soft washed rind taleggio cheese on a crostini.

We took a sip on its own, then after trying a bite of the food.

The acids in the wine bind to the lipids in the cheese, illustrating the premise of  pairing rich foods with tanins or acids in a crisp wine to cleanse the palate.

Vinoteque Sip and Swirl Oct11_gnocchi and Chianti Classico sangiovese

Second tasting was a Chianti Classico of Sangiovese grapes along with gnocchi. The flavors mirror each other more. Ryan explained that the higher acid wines make us salivate.

This principal of matching the acids in the wine to the acidity of the tomato sauce in the food keeps flavors harmonious.

On the other hand, acidic wines do not go well mixed with cream.

Vinoteque Sip and Swirl Oct11_Domaine la Lorentine Lirac 2005

Our final tasting was the 2005 Domaine la Lorentine Lirac, produced in the Southern Rhone region of France. Other Rhone wines include Syrah, Grenache and Morvedre.

Vinoteque Sip and Swirl Oct11_beef tartare adn Lirac 2005

The sensible advice of pairing the wine region with the food region helpa simplify the decision. Things that grew up together go well together.

We heard about the lilac and violet notes in the wine along with the wet, snowy climate.

The steak tartare accompanying the wine blended nicely, particularly with the worcestershire sauce.

Vinoteque Sip and Swirl Oct11_Ryan b

After the tastings, Ryan took some questions on specific pairings. I asked about pairing with Chinese Peking duck. He suggested a dry muscat and also pulled out an obscure (to me!) Greek wine from the collection called Agiorgitiko.

We also discussed how strongly spiced food can destroy the flavors in wine. But if it's something one must have, a spicy and sweet varietal such as Gewurtztraminer or Riesling work best.

*     *     *     *

The tasting whet our appetite for dinner. Although Vinoteque serves a full dinner menu, my friends and I headed next door to The Foundry for some comfort food on their bar menu.

And does Executive Chef and Owner Eric Greenspan ever know how to serve up the comfort food!

Foundry Oct11_focaccia and biscuits

We immediately got some mini bread bites on the table.

Foundry Oct11_biscuit with herb butter

What more can I say about a freshly baked mini biscuit with compound butter? It hits the spot.

Foundry Oct11_Foundry Tots fried potato cheese fondue violet mustard

For appetizer we enjoyed some Foundry Tots, fried potato tots with bleu cheese fondue and violet mustard, served in a mini skillet.

Foundry Oct11_buttermilk fried chicken goat cheese waffles

The night we dined there happened to be Fried Chicken night, and you can order individual pieces.

The chicken here falls apart at the bone. Probably because I heard Chef Greenspan first confits the chicken (cooks in its own fat), THEN batters and fries it. Nothing is left to chance here. The herbs in the breading add a fresh flavor.

And if that doesn't do the trick, the side dish of goat cheese waffles with maple bourbon syrup seals the deal. Sweet and savory in one bite always wins me over. They were a home run.

Foundry Oct11_grilled cheese taleggio raisin bread apricot caper puree short ribs

It's practically a crime to dine there without having the award winning, infamous Grilled Cheese sandwich. 

It oozes with taleggio cheese on raisin bread, apricot caper puree, arugula, Digon mustard, butter, olive oil, fleur de sel. We also took the option of adding in tender short ribs.

I'm totally okay with a simple grilled cheese and normally this many ingredients kind of gilds the lily, but it creates a unique, sinful combination that's so worth trying.

Foundry Oct11_The Patio SeasonBurger cheddar Hawaiian bread summer condiments

We rounded things off with the open faced Foundry Patio Burger. The patty comes on lightly toasted Hawaiian sweet bread with melted cheddar, arugula, baby cucumbers, sun-dried tomatoes and onion rings.

On the small side dishes right on the plate, they serve homemade aioli, caramelized onions and bacon pineapple relish.

In my opinion there are too many flavor combinations and too much build-it-yourself activity, but the taste definitely was there and it's another customer favorite at this place.

I'm getting tired just mentally re-living this meal! Both of these classic establishments offer great choices on the ever changing Melrose Avenue. 

Vinoteque on Melrose on Urbanspoon The Foundry On Melrose on Urbanspoon

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