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Wine Dinner in New York City at The Modern Sets a City Standard for Opulence

Staging “the” Perfect Meeting with Client and Media

If you’re just getting into PR, a perfect setting is really important

when you’re planning a meeting.

This is my most recent example.

I just traveled to New York City to discuss Finisterra and Alente wines (from the Alentejo region of Portugal) with an important group of people.

  1. CLIENT: It all began because Enoforum Wines, my Portuguese client now has an importer.
  2. IMPORTER:  Value Vines is now representing Enoforum wines in the United States, and is based in the New York/New Jersey area.

Delfim came in from Portugal, I came in from San Francisco, and we all met in Times Square.

After a day of meetings, we segued to a restaurant to enjoy a dinner that involved another set of really important people.

  1. MEDIA: Edward Deitch, wine columnist for Vint-Ed.com and Vine Talk at Reuter
  2. RESTAURANT: The Modern, New York City
  3. SOMMELIER: Belinda Chang, for The Modern
  4. CHEF: Gabriel Kreuther, for the Modern
  5. PASTRY CHEF: Marc Aumont, for The Modern
  6. ATTENTIVE STAFF: We each had one person who delivered our meals to us, while our host for the evening made announcements for each course as it was delivered (starting with mine, because I had a different menu, and then he announced what everyone else was having).

Knowing that I was only going to be in New York for a few days, I wanted to take advantage of hooking up with someone that I’ve known over the years. His name is Edward Deitch, wine columnist for Vint-Ed.com and Vine Talk at Reuters. Ed is one of those people who have always had time for me when I’ve called him. We’ve chatted about my clients, and he’s given them attention when it’s been appropriate. I’ve not spent a lot of time calling him; but when I have, it’s always been a quality experience. He’s a true gentleman and scholar, and I thought how great it would be to finally meet in person. Although his wife and children were traveling, Ed was still in the city.

I was in luck…

I asked him where a great place to have dinner would be, and he suggested The Modern, a restaurant connected to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. Loving art, and knowing that Delfim also has a great appreciation for the arts, this seemed like a perfect environment for us all to meet.

Edward’s already recapped the evening on Vint-Ed.com: Sips: Portugal’s Enoforum creates wines for export with some exciting releases. (I came back to copy writing for clients and waited for the weekend, when I’d have no phones ringing, which would allow for creative flow.)

Meanwhile, Ed had just met Belinda Chang (The Modern’s sommelier) at the Riesling Rendezvous, and said that he’d love to see her again. That connected us all. I called the restaurant and made a reservation. It was for 9:30 p.m., and I knew at the time of night, I’d only be able to taste one bite of each food  (delicate digestive system). When Belinda heard about my plight, she moved our reservation up to 7:30 p.m. I already liked Belinda!

Delfim, Adele, her colleague Carl Camasta of Best Value Wine Group, and I arrived at 7:30. Within minutes Ed arrived, having just left Brian Williams. (Ed has worked with Brain for year at NBC.)

We were queried before we arrived for any food sensitivities. I’m worse than “When Harry Met Sally,” but I try to downplay it as much as possible. I always manage to eat something as it comes up. I have to admit, however, that I once paid $400 for a six course winemaker dinner in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and all I had to eat that night was dessert… The most expensive dessert ever, I’d say. I also told Belinda, not to focus the dinner on me, because it’s not fair to the other guests (or the chef), because who – besides me – doesn’t love fish? I either eat around it, or just pass for the time being. (I don’t mind. I’m really weight conscious, anyway, and don’t mind not eating much at any point.)

The dinner stage was set.

Our waiter arrived with small menus for each of us. Mine was slightly different from the others, and now I really liked Gabriel Kreuther, a lot. The others were going to have a couple of fish courses, while I had an Heirloom Tomato Terrine with Opal Basil salad and an alternative duck dish.

Every detail had been attended to.

For the wines, we tasted Alentejo wines (Portuguese) about to land in the US:

  • 2009 Finisterra White ~ Varieties: Antoã Vaz, Siria, Rabo de Ovelha, and Perrum from Alentejo
  • 2007 Alente Red ~ Varieties Trincadeira, Aragonez from Alentejo
  • 2005 Alente Reserva ~ Varieties: Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, Aragonez from Alentejo

All of the stops were pulled for this fabulous dinner. I had sent the technical data sheets (for the above wines) ahead for Chef Kreuther. We didn’t know that he’s from Alsace, as the Brut Rosé (below) was chosen… It brought all the perfect elements together for such a memorable meal.

As I noted, we began dinner with a wine list item chosen by Carl: Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé. Deliciously paired with a small plate of appetizers, we began our meal. Ed knew, without being told, that it was a Lucien Albrecht… (What an amazing beginning…) Below is our menu:

The Modern Welcomes Enoforum
August 19th, 2010

Chef Gabriel Kreuther
Pastry Chef Marc Aumont

Our Five (Six) Course Dinner opened with a gratis appetizers and a cool verde soup.
Neither of these items were on our planned menus.

Enjoyed with d’Alsace Brut Rosé

——————

(They) Alaskan King Crab Salad “Cannelloni”
With Sustainable Osetra Caviar

(Me) Heirloom Tomato Terrine with Opal Basil

Enjoyed with the 2009 Finisterra White

——————

(All of us) Chilled Sweet Corn Soup
with Pearl Onions, Poached Quail Eggs
and Hickory Smoke

——————

(All of us) Grilled Sullivan Country Foie Gras with
Champagne Vinegar-Preserved Strawberries and Spice Tuile

Enjoyed with the 2007 Alente Red

——————

(They) Monkfish Confit with Wood Sorrel, Sprouts and Nasturtium Flowers

(Me) Long Island Duck Breast with Black Trumpet Marmalade
“Fleischschneke” and Banyuls Jus

Enjoyed with the 2005 Alente Reserva

——————

Dessert Service ~ (Three Courses!)

If you’re visual, like I am, you can just look at this video below, and get the 1,600 words below in less than two minutes. Enjoy!

I really have to compliment Chef Gabriel Kreuther; every single dish was perfectly paired for balance and flavors with our Enoforum wine selections. Chef Gabriel read the technical data sheets before planning our meal for us, so that he would know what the wines offered for flavors, before he even began our dinner. Each course was met with foods that completely complemented the gastronomy. The man is brilliant. So is Belinda, who worked as the liaison between the chef and me. Such great team work, from this amazing restaurant…

  • My Heirloom Tomato Terrine salad was set in a bit of  cool gelatin that held it in its perfectly round shape. The flavors of fresh tomatoes and basil were so refreshing, and cleansed my palate for what was next to come.
  • I could suddenly smell a hickory smoke filling the air, reminding me of my Jotul Wood stove from my life in Maine. I hadn’t memorized my menu to remember that it was going to be part of our next course: Chilled Sweet Corn Soup with Pearl Onions and Poached Quail Eggs… and Hickory Smoke. Everything was so delicate about this soup, and yet it was satisfying and substantive. The lightly creamy texture and flavors of the soup and allowed me to continue enjoying the Finisterra White. It was a perfect, summer soup course.
  • The Foie Gras was delicious; although I’m not a big fan… I was a vegetarian for a part of my life, and some things I just can’t get over or come back to… But, it was fine, just tasting a bit to be polite.
  • My Long Island Duck Breast with Black Trumpet Marmalade “Fleischschneke” and Banyuls Jus, was the best duck I have ever had. It was cooked to perfection, the Jus and black marmalade integrated with the flavors so beautifully that the 2005 Alente Reserva was a perfect complement. These varieties in the wine, Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, are Aragonez, are more full bodied. Without having tasted the wines, Chef Gabriel must have taken the 2005 vintage into consideration, with it’s tannins having softened, because it was impeccable pairing.

At the end of this meal, we were all really satisfied, but then began the dazzling desserts. Oh…My…Gahd… Each of us was brought a plate that was so exquisite that I had to photograph each one. Pastry Chef Marc Aumont pulled out all the stops. You need to know that there’s a pastry cart that is brought to each table, and each meal is completed with the tiniest of ice cream waffle cones (which was yet to come), so this was not expected… as I watched everyone else being served dessert. There we sat, savoring, and making satisfying yum sounds within our throats.. So delicious. Chef Marc Aumont is a genius!

No being able to speak for the others, I can only really tell you about the foods that I enjoyed. I can say this about the other dishes, however. Every single course that was brought to each of us at the table… My friends were all certifiable  “Clean Plate Club” members.

We dined for four hours. It wasn’t until Adele looked at her watch, because her parking garage locked up at midnight, that we realized that it was 11:30 p.m. With that, Adele and Carl rushed off to her garage – taking a cab, because they weren’t going to make it. (They just barely did.) Delfim and I said our goodbyes to Ed, and off we went back to our hotel for the night, delighted in an amazing dinner meeting that met with much success.

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7 Responses to “Wine Dinner in New York City at The Modern Sets a City Standard for Opulence”

  1. Wow! What an amazing dining experience!

    As you know, I love seafood of all kinds, but your duck entree sounds wonderful especially paired with the Alente Reserva!

    Do you realize, for how wonderfully we ate and drank in the Alentejo and Portugal, that we never had a chance to pair any of the wines with food? We got to taste them and imagine them but here you finally enjoyed them the were they should be–with food!

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Gwendolyn,

    I know… we never did the pairing thing. It was really delicious to have someone as accomplished as Chef Kreuther work his magic, with Belinda Chang helping to implement it all.

    It was so opulent… so amazing. Wish you could have been there!

    Yes… I k now that you’ll eat anything from the sea or fresh water… You’re quite the food adventurer!

  3. Jo–

    You are making me jealous on so many fronts at once I don’t know where to start.

    OK, let’s start with Belinda Chang. Years ago, when I was actively writing wine columns in newspapers, I did my one and only cookbook review. It was one of Charlie Trotter’s books, and I was not really reviewing the recipes. I was reviewing the wine pairings in the book which were not only inspired but beautifully described in terms of why they would work. Here were wine pairings that were also teaching moments. I love the writing and said so–and praised the sommelier who wrote them–Belinda Chang.

    Later on, she showed up in San Francisco, first as the sommelier at the Fifth Floor restaurant and later as its manager. No host has ever been more perfect. It was a sad day when she trundled off back to Chicago.

    Time passed and an email arrived telling me that Belinda had once again decamped and was headed to the Big Apple to run the wine program at the Museum of Modern Art. Now, to me, there is no more exciting museum in the world. I have been in love with it for years and years and years–and that is a very long time stretching all the way back to my college days.

    So, now, you have beaten me to the punch by getting to the Modern and eating there under the watchful eye of the sommelier who was my fave in San Francisco and now oversees wine at my favorite museum. I am jealous.

    And there is more. I visited Portugal a few years ago and came away impressed with the wines–wines that rarely get to our shores from the Alentejo and the Douro. I fully expect them to be big hits here, and there you are again, in the midst of another wine revolution–and eating at the Modern.

    I am jealous.

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    Charlie,

    As we now get to now say, LOL…

    I’m remembering an equally fabulous night at Rubicon with Terry and Jose on board, and Larry Stone guiding your white wine choice.

    Great moment are great moments, n’est ce pas?

    I’m blessed to have had this experience.

    Belinda and I are also still talking. I’m going to be reviewing her on this blog shortly. I’ve spent some time beginning to gather my questions, and haven’t finished them, yet. You’ve give me a great lead-in, if you don’t mind quote you, giving you credit, of course.

    LOVE museums… Boston’s Museum of Art also holds high appeal, especially the Impressionists area. (You spent time in Boston, right? Harvard?)

    And the Portuguese wines… Now those I can share with you…. And will…

    If you’re into modern art, check out this YouTube image video slide show that I created, between meetings, wining and dining, I was photographing… This is modern art that’s wearable…

    You didn’t get “this” dinner, but you’ll have the wines and a 5th Avenue experience… Enjoy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn4F82pUxAw

    We’re also due for some dining in the Bay Area soon, too.

  5. Jo–

    I am sure you will enjoy your interview with Belinda. Please feel free to quote anything I have said. It is all true.

    Yes, you have the college right. And I always seemed to have lots of reasons to go to NYC. I love the notion that one can walk down Fifth Avenue at midnight and have bookstores and such open and lots of company. Only great cities manage that kind of buzz.

    Love to get together some time soon. Time to talk about lots of things including my new love affair with Portugal.

  6. Jo Diaz says:

    Charlie,

    That’s what I also love about New York… So vibrant.

    Have you ever been to Portugal? A love affair turns into passion, I’ve found.

    When I get my GM from Enoforum in California, we’ll book a dinner in Oakland. You’ve got so many great restaurants there now. If he’s not going to make it for months, we’ll just do it. I’ll got to get the wines, but have buried for sending my sample request. I’ll attend to it soon, and you’re definitely on the list for samples.

  7. Waouhhh it sounds an amazing experience !!

    I love french wines but i’ve recently discovered those from Portugal, they are great.
    Is it common in NY or USA to drink wines from Portugal ?

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