saltwater sommelier

Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

I think Im Falling For You…

In Albe's Blog on February 26, 2010 at 7:51 pm

What’s all the talk about a cult following forming for lovers of the remarkable Lemon Sole dish at the Saltwater Grille.  Seems like everyone who is a food lover or ‘wanna be’ chef in earshot of what’s hot and what’s not on the East Coast is falling for this dish.  Map Questers and GPS navigators are travelling from a much more distant area than the Grille normally draws from.  With a look of wonder on their faces and a quest for the best on their palate they are arriving in droves and enjoying again and again.

‘Must be something about the luscious sauce,’ was the comment overheard at one of the fireplace tables in the lounge last Saturday night.  ‘It could be the way the capers and shallots, with their subtle appearance creates such an alluring flavor,’ was another comment whispered.  Just yesterday, up on the green I heard two women discussing how could the Saltwater Grille get such large, beautiful fresh sole every day.  ‘Maybe they get their lemons from Meyerland?  I hear they’re real gourmet.’

The Saltwater Grille has always enjoyed a devoted customer base with a craving for great seafood.  As always, there are those diners who continually play the field by trying every new restaurant that opens and every special they offer continuously moving from restaurant to restaurant and dish to dish, always on the hunt but never getting seriously involved or attached.  Unlike the growing group of foodies who are strictly monogamous, those that give up all the special deals, coupons and grand openings for that one place and that one perfect dish, leaving them with weeks of memories of unforgettable flavors and freshness and thinking of nothing but returning for more.

Scuttlebutt around a water cooler at a local business revealed numerous aliases being applied for the infamous lemon sole.  The ‘Soul Man’ or ‘Solo’ or ‘Soul Shattering’ and even ‘Sololicious’ were tags given by devoted followers.  The Saltwater Grille Lemon Sole entrée served daily on our menu is just one of those dishes that might make you join the crusade.  Rumors have surfaced that a Sole with such a following should have it’s own Facebook page or maybe a few daily ‘tweets’ to whet your taste buds.  Either way, it’s been proven in the past that regional cult followings can turn into widespread movements.

Oh Yeah, the Lemon Sole with its fantastic lemon caper shallot butter is served with a fluffy timbale of Texmati rice and some fresh grilled organic zucchini.  Stop by The Saltwater Grille any day and try the dish that everyone is falling for.

Albe Galotta, SWG Blogger

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$41 per Bottle Merriam Vinayards Merlot…Special

In The Wine Loft Blog on February 26, 2010 at 7:35 pm

BIN  212  2001  Merriam Vineyards Merlot Russian River Valley

Monday March 1st  (and a snow day special wine)

35 % off $41 per bottle!

(Regular Price $64 a Bottle)

The architecture of a wine would be the structural composition that leads you through a staircase of flavors, climbing up Rich blackberry and cassis aromas taking a turn on a French oak path and then spiraling back down a long trip of a finish to a smooth and solid landing.

2001 is a fabulous vintage!

If you tend to like Pinot Noir more than Cabernet then try this Merlot!  Merlots tend to be more delicate like a Pinot Noir yet still posses the depth and body to stand up to hearty meat dishes.

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier

Merriam is a Sonoma winery that often gets outshined by the A list Napa Valley headliners.  Do not miss out on this gem!

7 Beers and 7 Courses To Get Your Green On…

In The Mount Veeder Blog, Uncategorized on February 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Break seems like a distant memory. There has been so much hustle and bustle lately that I keep thinking the summer is here! Though a ways off, St. Patrick’s Day is the next holiday in line and is sure to be a busy day. I am more of a wine girl, but there is a special event scheduled to begin at noon that I am really looking forward to seeing.

First off, Mr. Galotta, who is very knowledgeable about beers, will be hosting this seven course beer tasting event. Throughout the meal, an explanation of the highlights of beer, such as how to pour a perfect Guinness, will be featured, as will a display of 250 tap handles. The following beers are the ones your taste buds will meet: Harp Lager Bottle, New Castle Brown Ale Draft, Harpoon Celtic Ale Bottle, Samuel Smith Organic Lager Bottle, and Smithwicks Red Ale Bottle. One more beer will be added the day of the event.

A Great Britain inspired menu will be served with the beers in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I am very excited about the cheddar ale soup and the potato leek soup. They smell so good! The hardest part will be choosing between them! After the soup will be venison Scotch eggs Casey with cranberry coulis. Scottish smoked salmon, which is being complimented by toasted Irish soda bread, caramelized onions, and crème fraiche will follow. Potato skins adorned with scallions, bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, and cabbage are up next. I can already feel myself getting full! But be sure to save room as a lovely salad, main course, and dessert are still to come! The salad will have apples, warm bacon bits, chopped egg, and grain mustard vinaigrette.

When it comes to the entrée, there will be a choice between two classic items: corned beef and cabbage, and Sheppard’s lamb meatloaf. Both feature spin offs on the original. The corned beef and cabbage will have brussel sprouts and glazed carrots, while the sheppard’s lamb meatloaf will have sage Derby cheese and bacon. And then there is the dessert: I thought my heart was going to melt when I read it. There will be Bailey’s chocolate bread pudding with a toffee sauce. Delicious!

If you are looking for a dining experience on St. Patrick’s Day, come enjoy our seven course luncheon and beer tasting. Reservations are being taken now at 860.567.4900 or by emailing swgcorporate@optonline.net . More information is available via the following link: www.litchfieldsaltwatergrille.org

“Wine Diamonds”

In Sommelier Corner on February 20, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Recently I was pouring a very high end wine at a table for a customer and what looked like an icicle slid out of the bottle and plopped into the glass.  Both I and the guests were a bit taken aback yet luckily the customer was a seasoned fine wine drinker and understood the wine was not flawed.  “Wine Diamonds” technically known as Tartaric Crystals is what was in this bottle of Pinot Gris from Oregon.  These crystals come about in almost all highly acidic wines.  The reason we are not used to seeing them is because most wine makers put the wine through a process called “Cold Stabilization” prior to bottling to remove the crystals for the purpose of “making the wine look better.”  During cold stabilization the wine is chilled until the crystals separate and can be removed from the wine.  The problem (obviously) is that this is a very rough process on the wine and is highly damaging for the purpose of aesthetic‘s.  (Interestingly, people are often concerned about a wine that may have spent too long on a delivery truck in the cold weather.  Well did you know that prior to bottling the wine you are drinking was most probably frozen?)

When these diamonds do appear it is actually a sign that the wine is unflawed and pure.  Most Europeans are comfortable with the crystals and view them as a sign of a very high quality wine yet Americans are highly wary of the crystals thinking the wine might be bad or maybe it is even broken glass floating in the wine.  Since the crystals are produced from the acidity in the wine they are mostly found in white wines as opposed to reds.  Red on the other hand will have sediment at the bottom of the bottle if it is older.  So please remember when decanting your wine to gently and slowly pour and leave just a bit at the bottom of the bottle.

SWG Sommelier, Brett Clugston

2004 Cristom Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Jessie Vineyard 40% Off Monday February 22nd

In The Wine Loft Blog on February 19, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Recently a customer ordered BIN 054 a 2006 Cristom Estate Pinot Gris from Eola-Amity Hills Oregon. To me, the in house sommelier it is a very impressive selection.  Reasonably priced at $40 a bottle Cristom is one of my favorite small boutique wineries.  It is not even that I necessity remember exactly what the wine inside the bottle tastes like (I could go back into the file cabinet containing a plethora of wine tasting notes and personal ratings) but I remember the experience the first time I tasted the wine.  I must admit the wine salesperson selling the wine and the appearance of the bottle do play a large part in adding a wine to your personal list of favorites.  And this wine had both.  Cristom is sold by Michael Skurnik Wines.  Skurnik has introduced me to everything but Cab and Chardonnay.  A Gruner Veltliner?  Biodynamic Farming?  Grower Champagne?  No need for advanced wine school just talk to the Skurnik salesperson.  Going to a Skurnik wine tasting (usually held at the Tribecca Grille in NYC) is a humbling event for a restaurant owner/ sommelier to be surrounded by wine intellectuals 100 times more knowledgeable then oneself.  But it is always incredibly inspiring.  OK a bit off on a tangent…but point being is that I am not sure that it is really what was in the bottle that made Cristom one of my favorite wines but the experience of being introduced to it that made it stick in my mind.  Also FYI Cristom wines are always in a very think glass bottle (much heavier than the average wine bottle) that give them an allure of sophistication.

The wine featured as these weeks “Wine Loft Special” is Cristom’s Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Jessie Vineyard, the 2004 vintage.  Most importantly I would like to point out that the best vintages for Pinot Noir in Oregon (courtesy of Robert Parker) are 1999, 2002, 2004, and 2005.  After that you have to go as far back as 1994 for a good Oregon vintage and I think the 2005 will be drinking much better for a Pinot Noir than a 94.  Take a look at the link below if you would like more tasting notes on this wine from Cristom’s website.  But you might simply want to take a chance on the sophisticated packaging to fuel your own amazing wine “experience” rather than read the tasting notes.  This wine is regularly priced at $75 per bottle and is being offered at 40% off for a priced of $45 per bottle on Monday February 22nd only!

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier

Click here for wine tasting notes…

Valentine’s Weekend…

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2010 at 2:53 pm

The restaurant opened in flurry. Hundreds of snowflakes and hundreds of people were about over the past few days. Valentine’s Day Weekend in particular was very busy, and the food looked and smelled delicious. Families, friends, and couples gathered around tables for a special night out and were not disappointed.

With both raw bar and hot appetizers available, there was something to set the food mood for everyone. Oysters were the favorites, followed closely by the tuna appetizer and the calamari. The crab encrusted filet medallions were extremely popular as was the sea bass. I could smell the delightful spices from the Connecticut Clam Chowder as well as from the Borscht. It was fun to watch the reactions to the Borscht: a pink soup? Bring it on over! Satisfying and hearty, this pureed beet soup was a favorite. A few people even asked if it was on the permanent menu.

And then there were the desserts. Shortbread cookies with chocolate filling, hot raspberry rhubarb crumbles, and white chocolate cheesecake were just a few of the special selections for the weekend. Blueberries, strawberry purees, and chocolate sauces added tasteful decoration to these final courses. Whenever I saw a dessert go by, invariably, an exclamation of delight would be heard shortly thereafter.

With gentle lighting, soft music, and wonderful palate pleasers, the Litchfield Saltwater Grille was a fantastic choice for many a lucky valentine. And I bet next year will be even better.

Winter Break…

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Laying pool side at the Grand Cayman Island, Ritz Carlton, certainly has a calming effect on the body and soul. With the Islands constant cool off shore breeze, the swaying of the palm trees and the sight of all the beautiful bronzed bodies, relaxing certainly seems in order. Falling asleep with the background sounds of the Island music and the children playing in the pool seems to be an easy task. As I close my eyes and slowly drift off to what I thought would be an even more serene place, I find myself in the midst of a very alluring dream.  Having a hard time at this point at telling the difference between reality and fantasy, it was too late.  I had drifted too far with no chance of getting back, not for a while.

There I was waist high in tranquil warm blue water with soft white sand between my toes, giant Stingrays moving slowly below the surface and the warm Island sun on my back. I had my chef hat perched on my head, my arms crossed in front of my soaking wet chef’s coat and in front of me about 30 reporters asking a gamut of questions while vigorously taking notes. Looks like this dream is going to take a bit of work.

“What does having the best seafood restaurant in Connecticut mean to you,” was the first thing I heard.   “Just knowing how much everybody loves the food and the ambiance is enough for me.” I replied.  What is your favorite New England dish?  Any dish made with hard shell Lobsters from Maine, that’s always a treat. How does the cuisine of New England compare to that of the Cayman Islands?  We pride ourselves on the variety of fresh fish available to us on the East Coast, just like the day boats that bring the daily catch to all the restaurants in the Caymans. What dish do you like to cook for your family and yourself when you’re not working?  Something simple like roasted chicken with some grilled vegetables or maybe any fresh fish seared in a pan with lots of fresh herbs. What is your favorite food related movie?  It has to be The Big Night, with the scene of the morning after the two brothers put their heart and soul into cooking a glorious gourmet meal for the guest of honor that fails to show and they sit down to a breakfast of a simply made omelet while no one utters a word, this says it all. And what is it that has kept you in the restaurant business so long?  It would have to be remembering the smell of just picked fresh Basil at my Grandmother’s house when I was young. Do you think you will ever open another Saltwater Grille in the Cayman Island???? This one shook me up a little and I found myself abruptly opening my eyes to the sound of the pool attendant asking if I would like a Pina Colada or an Island Lime Mojioto . No thanks I replied but if you can, please don’t let me fall asleep again.

Albe Galotta, SWG Blogger

Will You Marry Me?

In Albe's Blog on February 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Just about this time every year the phone at the Litchfield Saltwater Grille, and Connecticut Caterers starts ringing off the hook with would be brides and grooms asking questions about wedding and catering services. A portion of the callers are inquiring about our services for this spring and summer and some are asking for next year. Maybe it has something to do with Valentine’s Day and all the love in the air?  Either way the caller is off to a good start by considering the SWG and Ct. Caterers with its 25 plus years of catering many of the finest weddings in the Tri State area. A family run business with its roots in the Fairfield County area and now in Litchfield County, offering our services both at our Litchfield location and at public and private venues throughout the area. Brett Clugston, event coordinator and owner is always available to answer all your questions regarding your big day.

Our services include both helping you plan an elegant reception at any one of the area’s finest halls, mansions, or even at your home, or just a relaxed beach, park or backyard setting, if so desired. Also offered is the The Litchfield Saltwater Grille with its Manor House setting as a wonderful space for your gala event. Whether you have decided on a location or are still looking, speaking with Brett can give you just the added information that could start pulling your entire event together.  Chic, Classic or Casual, Ct. Caterers can offer something in every budget. Any location can be transformed into whatever the bride and groom has envisioned their dream wedding to be.  Other information on such subjects as rental companies, florists, bartenders, wait staff, D.J.s, live bands and music, liquor, and even wedding cakes can be obtained with just one call. Menus can be geared to reflect family tradition, seasonal fare, organic farm to table themes, or even beach and backyard BBQ style.  With today’s economy woes an ever present hurdle to overcome, Ct. Caterers focuses on true value with high quality services at a very affordable price. Couples with larger budgets can personalize their event with custom made add-on’s if so desired.

Give Brett a call at 860.567.4900 and get all your wedding event questions answered. With a wealth of information about all the different things you need to know about catering your wedding we can give you the answers you want to here except to the one most important question out there “Will you marry me?”

SWG Blogger, Albe Galotta

Links…

In house Wedding Packages, Shower Luncheons, Brunch Shower Packages, Rehearsal Dinner Packages, and More!  Visit our Wedding Planning page at www.litchfieldsaltwatergrille.org

To learn more about our out of house wedding event services visit our sister company website at www.connecticutcaterers.org

For wedding trends and hot menu ideas read more at Design Your Wedding Menu Blog

The End of a Holiday…

In The Mount Veeder Blog on February 9, 2010 at 4:31 pm

The restaurant was still quiet. As had been our weeklong tradition, Moose and I played catch with the cinnamon stick and then decided on a game of hide and seek. The later didn’t last long though… Moose had a decidedly unfair advantage!

As we curled up next to the fire, I was struck by how lucky we were to be enjoying a holiday. Few and far between at the restaurant, they were a nice time to enjoy a leisurely day. Unfortunately, they also gave me a lot of time to think. I had seen a note that in honor of Moose’s death, the 2004 B.R. Cohn Merlot Sonoma County California wine was being offered as a special on February 15th. It was a complex wine with dark fruit hints as well as anise and toasty vanilla hints from its aging in French Oak barrels. The wine was great, but if Mooses’ namesake existed, perhaps mine did too. It was something to consider.

But for the moment, it was wonderful to bask in the glow of the fire and enjoy what was left of the holiday. The television had announced snow was on the way, and I wondered how much we would get this time.

Something Special…

In The Mount Veeder Blog on February 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Well, the restaurant is a quiet place this week. It’s the annual break, and no on will be back until the 10th of February. As everyone was on break, I decided to have a mini vacation of my own. I played catch with Moose using a cinnamon stick and we figured out how to start the fire. I had to stand on the button to get it light, but once it did, we were nice and toasty. Yesterday afternoon I found the Valentine’s Day menu. It was like reading a script before the seeing the movie…

As during other special days of the year, there is a prix fixe option, or people may order ala carte. The soup is going to be delightful! It’s a borscht, and the last time it was available, I almost hopped out of my frame to get some. If you’re a fan of beets and vegetables in general, you’ll love this pink pureed soup.

The traditional raw bar items you’ve come to enjoy will be available too, as will the towers. Additionally, hot appetizers such as crab cakes, steamed mussels, and calamari are on the menu. There are some special starters too. Chef is going to prepare escargot stuffed mushrooms, a Valentine’s Day sushi roll, and a Sashimi assortment.

The entrées sound absolutely fabulous. There are traditional items, like the sole and butternut squash ravioli, and new twists on old favorites. The salmon is being served with a coconut curry sauce, sautéed escarole, and fried onions while the steamed lobster is coming with mussels, clams, fingerlings, and French green beans. Crab encrusted filet medallions with garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, and a roasted red pepper cognac sauce will be just one of the new items available.

After finding the dinner menu, I searched for the dessert list. As much as I adore food, sweets just make me smile. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an official one. Perhaps chef is making something special for Valentine’s Day. One can only hope.

View the complete Valentines Day Menu Here…