¡Think Pink! Dining Out on the Upper East Side

Boqueria UES[1]

I love it when dining out is truly an experience; one of those memorable events that sticks with you for a while. Well, that’s what my #squad and I had when we went to Boqueria. Let me set the scene for you: it was a typical Friday afternoon in NYC.[2] We strolled off our yacht, the one where we sailed around the Statute of Liberty while we drank Rosé, then we took a walk through Greenwich Village. File Jun 12, 10 45 37 AM

We hopped on the subway and voyaged to the Upper East Side where we took a break for some ice coffee[3]. Before you know it, we were seated outside at Boqueria, on literally one of the top ten days of the year. The sun was slowly setting, the breeze was blowing and the temperature was absolutely perfect.[4]
Boqueria is a Spanish tapas and wine bar with several locations around NYC and Washington DC. This funky little spot had a few tables outside, and inside was a mix of high tops, low tops and a great bar; toward the back you can sit at a counter overlooking the kitchen.

We opted for the fresh air[5] and people watching. Our waiter Freddy came over and got us going with some food and Kieran helped us out with the wine. They’re featuring a host of interesting Rosés at the moment, and we started with Bodegas Los Bermejos Lanzarote Listán Rosado 2015, a bottle from the Canary Islands[6]. File Jun 27, 9 48 51 PM

Kieran explained how the volcanic soil makes the vines work super hard, and the resulting wine is well worth the effort. You could actually smell the salty sea air on the nose; it was slightly effervescent with a definite minerality. A beautiful light pink, very beachy. Perfect with our first round of heaven, I mean food.

File Jun 27, 9 48 40 PM

The tapas were On Point. Dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeón blue cheese, wrapped in bacon. Yes. Tabla de Quesos y Embutidos[7] with  Manchego, Caña de Cabra, Jamón Serrano, and Chorizo Ibérico served with olives, pan con tomate and raisin walnut bread. Yes. Seafood paella with shrimp, claims and a creamy aioli. Yes. Grilled seasonal vegetables with a hazelnut romesco sauce[8]. Yes. Quail Egg flat bread with caramelized onions. Yes. Yes. Yesssssss. File Jun 27, 9 47 43 PM

We were livin’ large[9].

File Jun 27, 9 48 29 PM

Mid way through our tapas, Kieran came over with a set of porrons, a traditional Spanish wine pourer made of glass, filled with the 2015 Liquid Geography Rosado. To drink from the porron you use the tiny spout to pour it into your mouth. The goal is to get it as far from your mouth as possible. Kieran was a pro and showed us the ropes; we all took a turn, but we were not so skilled. It turned into quite the spectacle. The rosé was great, a bit fruitier than the first, but still light and crisp, not too sweet. We may have cheated and poured the rest of the wine into our glasses after our porron pouring adventure…

Of course, the evening wouldn’t have been complete without dessert. And another bottle of wine. Even though we were all stuffed to the gills and ready for a nap. Making the extra effort was a well-made decision. For the wine, we imbibed some Ameztoi Rubentis Rosé. Kieran instructed us that the proper pour had to start wayyyyy up there in order to get the full experience. File Jun 27, 9 50 49 PM

He was right. The high pour got the wine aerated and the fizzy bubbles poppin’. Though it wasn’t a full blown sparkling, the natural fermentation results in a fizzy bubbles that’s refreshingly fun. A touch sweeter than the previous two wines, with a hint of something citrus; perfect for our last sweet course. File Jun 27, 9 47 55 PM
For dessert, an order of traditional churros, followed by an order with Nutella[10], Arroz con Leche[11] and a Turrón[12] did the trick. When we were finished drinking and gorging snacking, Freddy and Kieran rolled us out into the night and we made our way back toward Greenwich Village.

Seriously this place was amazing. The tapas were great for sharing; we all left fully sated and satisfied. It definitely wasn’t one of those places where you’re still hungry at the end. If you find yourself wandering around the Upper East Side with a sudden craving for tapas and Rosé, you’ve found your destination[13].


Lawyer Footnotes
[1] For you non-New Yorkers, UES stands for Upper East Side. I had to Google it too.
[2] I’m being facetious when I say typical. This was anything but typical. I’m open to making this typical. #yachtlife
[3] Because it turns out that sailing around drinking rosé can make you tired. #thestruggle
[4] We took #RoséAllDay to a whole new level today.
[5] See weather notes, supra.
[6] Who knew they made wine?
[7] This means meat and cheese plate for the table. #translator
[8] I could NOT place the hazelnut flavor on my own, but as soon as Freddy said it, it was so obvious. What a flavor experience!
[9] In the words of younger sissy: “If I were walking by, I’d be jealous of us.” So modest. But so true.
[10] Because how do you choose between those two?
[11] Rice Pudding.
[12] Almond and hazelnut cake served with dulce de leche ice cream, topped with honey and Chantilly cream. Mmmmm, yes.
[13] Turns out they deliver too. And they’ll throw in free churros if you order from Caviar or Postmates. What?! Do you know how lucky you people are to live in New York? Food like this is hard to come by where I come from!
[14] Note: My meal was graciously comped by Boqueria. My opinion is entirely my own.

A Spanish Mencia and Thoughts on Wine Ratings

I’ve been enjoying wine for quite some time now. I remember back to my college years when I thought taking Franzia out of the box and carrying the bag around at parties was really clever. Thankfully, wine and I have evolved since then. Part of my wine routine is to go through the Wine Spectator buying guide for recommendations. At first I tried to buy the wines at local package stores but soon discovered many were not widely available. I quickly turned, like I do for most other things, to the internet. Now I’m subscribed to multiple liquor stores email newsletters and find my inbox filled with offers for deals like a “95 Point Chardonnay” and a “93 Point Estate Zinfandel”. The offers are tempting, they almost sound too good to be true.[1] Last week I succumbed to the sweet, enticing email blast and bought four bottles of 2009 Alvarez de Toledo Mencia Roble, which was rated 91 Points by The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker.[2] Sounded good to me!

59605362Now that I’m a wine blogger, I’m starting to read other wine blogs. I happened upon 1 Wine Dude’s blog post today about wine scores.[3] I thought it unfair of him to say that wine producers shouldn’t tout their scores. If the knowledge that someone who knows a thing or two about wine thought that this was a good one, why shouldn’t the consuming public be told? After all, evidence is relevant if it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence. FRCP 401. So, if it helps producers sell a few more bottles, or introduces a new customer to the wine, it seemed like sharing the scores should be a no-brainer.

After bringing the Alvarez de Toledo to dinner with friends and taking the first sip, I reconsidered my position on scoring. Drinking wine, after all, is such a subjective activity. Drink the same wine on two different days, with different food, with different people, and it will taste different. Take a sip of wine inside and then take a sip outside, it will taste different. Everyone’s palates are unique, so in theory, while a 1998 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild [4] may taste like a flowery glass of heaven to me, my drinking companion may find it harsh and dry.[5]

Because I knew that someone had rated this particular wine a 91, I, perhaps unfairly, expected fireworks to explode in my mouth. That is not to say that this was a bad or unenjoyable wine, but knowing the score negatively impacted my expectations, and thus my experience. I’m certainly not advocating the demise of the wine rating system, nor would I fault a producer for touting a good score to its customers. My take away is that in the future I’ll be less apt to buy four bottles of a wine I’ve never tried based on someone else’s numeric assignment. Onto the review.
To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:             WineEsquire
Date:               March 15, 2015
Wine:              Alvarez de Toledo Mencia Roble 2009 Review

IMG_5064As I said, we brought this wine to dinner with friends. There was no breathing, no decanting, just popped the cork, poured and sipped. I do not have much experience with Spanish wines, and this may have been my first Mencia[6]. On the nose I got hints of musty leather. The first sip was dry with very spicy undertones. This was a thinner wine that did not give you a big mouthful like the 6th Sense Syrah. Like the Chateau de Lavagnac Bordeaux, this wine greatly improved when enjoyed with food[7] and I think the time it spent breathing as we socialized and ate helped it to relax, allowing for a smooth and enjoyable finish. Husband thought the wine was “young” and that it still had some aging to do in the bottle. I don’t know if I’m sophisticated enough to know what that means, but we’re going to put the remaining three bottles in the cellar[8] and see what happens in two to three years. I’m going to put all my cards on the table here and tell you that I paid $7.99 a bottle. At that price point, you can’t go wrong because after ten minutes of breathing and paired with food, this was a very enjoyable wine.

Wine DossierIMG_5070
The wine producer, Alvarez de Toledo, has a long family tradition of winemaking. I’m loving their coat of arms on the bottle. This bottle was 100% mencia grape, grown in the Bierzo region of Castilla Leon, Spain.

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] And we all know, that means they usually are.
[2] Prior to writing this post I didn’t know who Robert Parker was or what the Wine Advocate was. From the email I received I assumed it was something similar to Wine Spectator. Turns out it’s this guy named Robert Parker’s wine review website.
[3] Meme originally published by 1WineDude.
[4] The 1998 scored 95 points according to Wine Spectator.
[5] Perhaps using a 1998 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild was not a good example. While I have not yet had the pleasure of imbibing such a treasure, from what I’ve heard, I don’t think any member of the human race could think it harsh or dry.
[6] I had to google this. I couldn’t figure out where the name of the winery ended and the name of the wine began. Mencia is a grape variety I had not previously heard of.
[7] Our host served a delicious spread of candied walnut spinach salad, peppers stuffed to the gills with rice, meat and cheese and fragrant garlic bread.
[8] Cellar is a fancy word for basement. We do have a wine rack though.