saltwater sommelier

Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

“Summer in Sonoma” Wine Dinner

In Sommelier Corner on April 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm

BR Cohn Winery

One of the most amazing things about wine country in California is its diverse landscape, ever changing as you go from county to county. Traveling through counties like Mendocino, Lake County, and Napa make any wine lover long for a life on the vineyard. Each area, one more beautiful than the last, has plenty to offer from its valleys to its rivers, and its mountains to its coastlines. Having spent much time enjoying much of California’s wine country I am always compelled to return to that one place that feels so comfortable. Anything north of San Francisco is God’s country to me, but most of all I have grown to love Sonoma and I really love it in the summer time. Sonoma County is the home of many wonderful little towns like Healdsburg, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol all just a little more than 1 hour north of San Francisco. Directly in the center of Sonoma Valley, are the beautiful B.R. Cohn Winery, and their Olive Hill Vineyard. Protected on the west by the Sonoma Mountains, which is its buffer to coastal fog, the valley floor is about 7-10 degrees warmer in the daytime. Less fog plus warmer daytime temperatures  along with its natural underground hot springs, creates a naturally frost free environment, and a longer growing season than other areas. B.R. Cohn was started in the early 1970’s by owner Bruce Cohn who sold his grapes to many other big name vineyards in Napa and Sonoma until 1984 when he started to produce his own wine with his own label. Now 25 plus years later the B.R. Cohn Estate has become one of the area’s largest Vineyards, producing many of Sonoma’s most sought after wines. Still the original owner, Mr. Cohn has a love for both wine and music, and at his vineyard he gets to enjoy both. Before getting involved with wine Bruce was the Manager of the very popular 70,s band, The Doobie Brothers. Every year Bruce hosts a fall charity music Festival at his Vineyard with numerous legendary bands and performers raising lots of money for The Valley of The Moon Children’s Foundation. If you get to visit the estate someday, I am sure you will enjoy seeing the lush vineyard of Picholine olive trees that were imported from France, and are used in the bottling of B.R.Cohn’s gourmet food, vinegar and Olive Oil Company.

The Litchfield Saltwater Grille is pleased to announce that on Sunday June 5th 2011 at 3:30 pm we will be hosting our first B.R.Cohn wine dinner in 3 years. It is planned to be held on both our newly redecorated outdoor patio, and in our main dining room. The afternoon will include a “Sonoma Summer Welcome Table” of fresh cheeses, flatbreads and California crostinis upon arrival to be paired with B.R.Cohns new release of their single vineyard Chardonnay, 2009 Sanglacomo.

Being as famous as the SWG is for its seafood we had to include an “East Coast/West Coast” Raw Bar as the second course, with lots of specialty shellfish and seafood delights from both sides of the USA. B.R.Cohn’s Russian River Pinot Noir is just the right taste to pair with this fresh and fun seafood selection. Both these wines will be available to enjoy with the first two courses.

Now that were settled into our seats for the afternoon our salad course of Heirloom Yellow and Red Tomatoes with California fresh fried Artichoke Hearts will go perfect with the Sonoma Zinfandel that B.R.Cohn produces. It compliments Chef Albert’s Famous “White Balsamic Herbal Vinaigrette” wonderfully,which is available retail at the SWG.  Main Course choices will be a either a wonderful Crab Crusted Filet of Sole, fresh citrus sauce and Grilled Zephyr Squash or a Wood Fired, Dry Rubbed Sliced Filet Mignon with Rich Raspberry Merlot Glaze and Vella Cheese Company Dry Aged Monterey Jack.   Our pastry chef never wants to be left out so all the stops have been pulled for us to enjoy a selection of homemade treats that would make any cellar worker happy. Lemon Panna Cotta with Pepita Brittle and homemade Wine Country Cookies will start the list. Topping off our wonderful evening we are pleased to be able to offer a rare gem on the east coast, a special tasting of B.R.Cohn’s Olive Hill Port.

Seats for this very rare event can be obtained by speaking with Brett Clugston at the Litchfield Saltwater Grille, 860-567-4900. There are a limited amount of seats so please reserve early. The price is $78.00 per person plus tax and service Charge. All food and unlimited wine is included.

I have enjoyed visiting the B.R. Cohn vineyard in Sonoma many times.  This is the best way for us at the Saltwater Grille to bring to you the pleasures we have enjoyed here in Litchfield.

Cellar Master, Chef, Blog Writer, Albe Galotta


Kentucky Flavors…

In The Kitchen on April 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm

The Litchfield Saltwater Grille will be hosting a Derby Day Party on Saturday May 7th starting at 5pm.  Makers Mark, Knob Creek, Jim Beam, and Wild Turkey Mint Juleps will be available all night long!  We pick our mint fresh from our gardens, make our own simple syrup, and use crushed ice to serve you the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby in it’s traditional form.

Chef Albert Clugston III has created a Southern Style bar menu featuring a Knob Creek Bourbon Infused BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich served with Fried Pickles and Potato Salad.  For the full Derby experience try our Grilled Shrimp and White Cheddar Grits served with Jalapeño Corn Bread with Sea Salt and Cayenne. More of this menu here…

Our dessert chef will be baking traditional Pecan Pie and a special “Derby Pie” a decadent chocolate pie made with Makers Mark Bourbon.  Call early to reserve your table in our lounge so that you can watch the race Live on TV at the Saltwater Grille 860.567.4900 And don’t forget to wear you hat!

No Man Can Eat 50 Eggs

In Albe's Blog on April 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

The love for food in the cinema has long been a topic of writers and producers throughout the years.  Many great movies focus on the passions and love we all have for wonderful foods and their places of origin.  Food has long been known for always being able to portray the full range of human emotions.  Ever since the larger than life Charlie Chaplin made two dinner rolls dance on forks, in” The Gold Rush” food has elevated Cinema to some of its greatest moments.

Blockbuster films like “Julie and Julia” focus on the lives of two women, one a chef and one a writer. Their amazing love of food and life melt together for a delicious and romantic food story. “Ratatouille” was a wonderful animated story of how a rat runs an award winning kitchen in France with the help of young Linguini, a low level prep cook.  And can we ever forget “Mostly Martha” or its remake “No Reservations” and all the wonderful scenes of Martha in her kitchen preparing the beautiful meals she so passionately serves.  But these films are made about food.  They live and breathe food from the beginning of the film to the end. What about the movies that entertain us with much different subject matters?  Like westerns or comedies, or war stories or love stories. Ones that don’t focus on the love of food or how to cook food, or where it’s grown, but movies that just happen to offer an unbelievable food scene. These are some of the added fun and unexpected treats we benefit from as we view the never ending buffet of new and old movies available.

Being a person that prefers to go to the theater only with the assurance  that I will be overwhelmed with the sights, sounds and even smells of food, I have been assured  that every once in a while a great food scene will occur in a film that has nothing to do with the overall story. Stories maybe about a love triangle that include a dinner scene you never forget. It could be a tale of a young man growing up and moving on in life while remembering the cooking of his home. Or an unexpected restaurant scene in a spy thriller that blows the top off the case and the oven. While you are trying to digest all of that,  I thought I would write down a list of my favorite delicious food scenes featured in movies not about food.

#10…Tom Hanks in “Big” showed the world how eating an ear of baby corn and a mouth full of caviar at a cocktail party would look like if you were a 12 year old in a 22 year olds body.

#9…”Lady and the Tramp” Disney Dogs, Tramp from down town and Lady an upper crust breed of girl, and their Spaghetti Smooch while being serenaded to “this lovely Bella Notte” in the back alley of an local Italian restaurant.  As Tramp shows himself to be the perfect dinner date, true movie magic occurs as a strand of spaghetti held between them draws their lips together for the first time.

#8… “Pulp Fiction” A film otherwise having nothing to do with food, Quentin Tarantino’s fantasy scene with hit man Vincent Vega and mob leader girlfriend Mia Wallace drinking milk shakes in a 1950’s diner. The wait staff is dressed up to the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lewis and James Dean, as we sit in and watch the dining, dancing and passion of two bad for each other players.

#7… “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts dines out at a very elite and over her head type of restaurant with the wealthy Richard Gere and the two heads of a large company he is attempting to take over. After having her meal ordered for her by a more capable Gere, everyone gets a laugh as her failed attempt at eating escargot results in a projectile snail shell flying across the room only to be caught by a quick handed waiter.

#6… “”Animal House” John Belushi brings the roll of Bluto in this college humor film to a higher level with the over the top scene in the school cafeteria.  First Bluto loads up his tray with every imaginable food item while going thru the cafeteria line. Then after stuffing a mound of mashed potatoes in his mouth and giving everyone at the table his impression of a zit he belts out the words most movie goers and college students would not soon forget “Food Fight’.

#5…9&1/2 Weeks, Kim Basinger  and Mickey Rourke create a feast for the senses as they spend more time than humanly possible on the floor in front of a refrigerator as he blindfolds her and feeds her everything from berries to honey. The anticipation alone of the tastes drives everyone wild.

#4…”Goodfellas”…Never have you seen any group of inmates eat and cook so well as when the cops drop off a box of fresh lobsters just before dinner time to the convicted mob bosses cell. Dinner in the slammer is not so bad when you cut the garlic for the sauce real thin with a razor, and don’t put too many onions in the sauce, it makes it to sweet.

#3… “When Harry Met Sally’” While sitting in a New York City deli Meg Ryan explains to her platonic friend, Harry, how easy it is for a woman to fool a man. What follows is Sally seductively acting out her explanation while eating bites of her overstuffed deli sandwich. Everyone in the place stops talking and eating so they can listen and watch all the way to the last emotion. All brought back to life when the middle aged woman ordering at the next table then tells the waitress “I’ll have what she’s having”.

#2… “Five Easy Pieces” It’s hard to beat the scene in the diner when Jack Nicholson (Bobby) attempts to get a side of plain wheat toast, and has to reason with a waitress who refuses to make any substitutions on the menu. “I’d like an omelet  plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayo, and a cup of coffee” “Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, give me a check for the sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules”.

#1…”Cool Hand Luke” Paul Newman will always be remembered by the scene that follows when he bets fellow prisoners on the chain gang whether or not he can eat 50 eggs in one hour? “NO Man Can Eat 50 Eggs” is the roar of the crowd as the bets come in and a mountain of hard boiled eggs begins to vanish into poor Luke’s body. There are a lot of classic scenes in Cool Hand Luke but this great “Food Scene” will be remembered by movie lovers with a passion for years to come. A critic once wrote “What makes theater great are the great moments in theater”.

Chef, Cellar Master & Blogger, ALBE GALOTTA…

Celebrity Chefs and Sommeliers

In Sommelier Corner on April 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I have the honor of appearing as a featured sommelier alongside celebrity Chef Dave Martin (runner up on season one of Top Chef) on Thursday May 19th.  The event  is the first in a line up of Pop Up Restaurants being planned.  The Litchfield Saltwater Grille will actually contribute two of the three featured sommeliers for the event.  Albe Galotta, The Saltwater Grille wine director and myself have paired five wines with Chef Martins amazing five course menu.  To see the complete pairings and menu click here…

Dominik Caiati, who is spearheading the event, knows the allure celebrity Chefs have these days. The public elevated Chefs to celebrity status quite a few years ago.  Iron Chef started the wheel spinning (the Japanese version first aired in 1992) and later reality shows like Top Chef and Chopped brought more attention turning Chefs into stars.  Sommeliers (the other half of the restaurant world) have yet to be recognized in this same light.  Not many people can actually name a professional sommelier yet they are a key ingredient to a successful restaurant.  As a sommelier myself I have been following the career of Belinda Chang.  Currently 38 years old she originally studied biochemistry at Rice University.  Her first major job in the wine world was as a sommelier for Charlie Trotters in Chicago.  Now the wine director for The Modern in NYC she manages an enormous wine list for one of Danny Meyers most successful restaurants.  To name a few other noteworthy sommeliers: Aldo Sohm (Le Bernadin), Paul Roberts (French Laundry), and John Ragan (Eleven Madison Park). Please note sommeliers do jump around a bit from one high profile restaurant to another.  Sommeliers can gain recognition in a few ways.  One is by being a part of a hugely successful restaurant or working alongside a star Chef.  James Beard awards a best wine service award each year and being the wine director for a restaurant receiving this honor can make a sommelier a “Star Sommelier.”  Although tasting every day to train your palate  combined with quite a bit of studying is what really makes a person a true wine expert.  There are many levels of certification one can receive as a sommelier.  The highest level being “Master Sommelier,” a title held by only 180 people in the world.

So if you are a foodie and a wine enthusiast I suggest getting tickets to the first event in this Pop Up Restaurant Series fast.  There are only 60 seats and it will sell out.

Purchase tickets to the event here…

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier

Sommeliers Brett Clugson and Albe Galotta of The Litchfield Saltwater Grille will be featured sommeliers at a very special dinner on Thursday, May 19th.

In Sommelier Corner on April 5, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Maria…The Restaurant at Stamford is a concept location by Dominick Caiati that is the seed of what will be one of Stamford’s if not all Connecticut’s most cutting edge major culinary destinations.  Located on Stamford’s harbor, “203 Studios” (112 Southfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902) is currently home to a TV & Film production studio and on Thursday, May 19th the space will be transformed into what is being said will be the gastronomic celebration of Spring 2011.  Mr. Caiati is bringing together an impressive lineup of culinary and wine professionals for this debut event including celebrity Chef Dave Martin, runner up on season one of Bravos hit series Top Chef. Three sommeliers: Brett Clugston and Albe Galotta of The Litchfield Saltwater Grille and multi media wine professional Sandra Muller.  Tickets are limited and can be purchased for $197.00 per person. Or $1,576.00 the special price for a table of eight.

Dominick Caiati is spearheading a project to create a series of “pop-up” restaurants that will operate on the west side of Stamford Harbor./PHOTO BY RICHARD LEE Photo: Contributed Photo, Richard Lee / Stamford Advocate Staff


More about the menu: Chef Martin, a big draw for the event, has created a seasonal four course menu featuring dishes such as Dave’s Sage & Apple Wood Bacon Mac & Cheese.  “I think the most surprising pairing will be the Coca Cola Braised Boneless Lamb Shoulder with a 2007 Summers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Andrian’s Cuvee, Napa Valley” says Brett Clugston.  Guest will have the opportunity to taste the lemon panna cotta made famous in the finale of Top Chef season one paired by sommelier Albe Galotta with a LBV Presidential Port. The complete menu and wine pairings can be viewed here…

Event Date: Thursday, May 19, 2011

Location: “203 Studios”, 112 Southfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902


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