The front label is an interesting portrait painted by David Larned.
A rich, fruity beer. The character of the berries comes through in the color of the beer and in the aromas.
Dogfish Head brewery in Delaware brews their 'Black & Blue' with black raspberry puree and blueberry puree. I love that Dogfish Head is not afraid to experiment with unique ferments. I always enjoy their Ancient Ale series, especially Chateau Jiahu. This brew delivers as well. The base is a Belgian golden ale, fermented with real fruit.
The front label is an interesting portrait painted by David Larned.
Dogfish Head "Black and Blue" (Milton, Delaware)
A rich, fruity beer. The character of the berries comes through in the color of the beer and in the aromas.
From the moment I met this family I knew they were good people!
Right before Hurricane Sandy I was working at the restaurant and noticed a guy having a tasting menu. Sometimes you get an industry-feeling about someone. He was going through the tasting menu like a restaurateur, he thumbed through the wine list like a sommelier, and he tasted wines like a winemaker. Little did I know, he is practically all three of these things! I struck up a conversation, and it turns out that both his wife and father-in-law are great winemakers in Portugal; William has a beautiful restaurant in Antwerp (Pazzo), and he and his wife live an action packed life with their children between the Portuguese winery, the restaurant in Belgium, and traveling to promote the wine. William was visiting NYC to pour his wife's wines at a special Portuguese tasting, and had popped into Public for dinner because it was near his hotel. William's wife, Filipa Pato, makes wines in Beiras, Portugal. I was fresh from my recent trip to Vinho Verde, and as luck would have it that night, I had an open bottle of Pedro Aurajo's laureiro (Quinto do Ameal). So naturally, I brought a glass to my new friend to toast the upcoming Portuguese tasting. It turns out that William knows Pedro very well. Here is a photo of William in mid toast!
But the Portuguese tasting was cancelled due to the weather, Sandy shut down all of Manhattan, and, as I later found out, William was holed up inside of his hotel for three days before he could get back home! He left, and the tasting was postponed.
A few weeks later, I get a message that his dad-in-law is in town and is planning to visit! Enter the enigmatic Luis Pato; his energy fills up a room when he walks in.
Luis is well known for a particular grape variety that is the object of his infatuation: baga. He makes over 70 different bottlings of baga, just to prove its expressiveness (and to satiate his endless imagination!).
So I had met the clan, with the exception of Filipa. After Hurricane Sandy the Portuguese tasting that William had originally been in town for was rescheduled, and this time..... Filipa herself came to pour the wines.
I'd heard about her from her husband, William; I'd heard about her from her dad, Luis, and I suspected she was amazing. But meeting Filipa Pato in person is awesome! She is a great lady.
Filipa grew up on her dad's vineyards and was inspired by wine and winemaking from the start. She broke away and started her own winery called "FP" for, you guessed it, Filipa Pato. Her wines range from sparkling to red to white. She makes inspiring terroir-driven 'Nossa' wines from limestone soils. Her vision is much different from her father's, yet equally inspired.
Let me just say it one more time: This family is amazing! Between William's awesome restaurant in Antwerp, Luis' groundbreaking wines and insatiable love of baga, and Filipa's cool, level-headed wines, they are a force to be reckoned with!
Chateau de la Gardine
Gardine has been run by the Brunel family since 1948. Gaston recently passed the estate down to his two sons, Patrick and Max. This particular cuvee is a tribute to Gaston and his father Philippe.
They practice organic farming, vinify with indigenous yeasts, use low sulfur, and cultibeehives throughout their property.
Chateau de la Gardin
'Cuvee des Generations' 1998
(Chateaneuf du Pape, Rhone, France)
This started off rich, dense, and bold, with an inky dark color that masked its age. Over the course of the night this opened up into mushrooms, leather, meat, and underbrush.
One of the most interesting features is the shape of the bottle-- it is a cylinder with three loosely defined sides. Gaston began releasing his wines in this bottle in 1964. His inspiration was a very old bottle buried near his winery that he found during a cellar expansion. The family has the bottles made in Italy, because none of the domestic bottle makers have the capabilities to produce this type of bottle.
Francoise Bedel is one of the few Champagne producers who is certified biodynamic, and who is dedicated to the philosophy, as opposed to so many growers who use bits and pieces of its ideology. The parcels lie in the Marne, on the banks of the river. Francoise took over about 21 acres in 1979. When her son, Vincent, fell ill, she used homeopathy to help his symptoms; over time, this led her to biodynamic farming, which she implemented in 1998. Vincent joined the business in 2003.
This particular bottling is a selection of mostly pinot meunier from limestone soils.
Francoise Bedel Dis, "Vin Secret" brut (Champagne, France)
based on primarily 2005 vintage.
80% pinot meunier, 15% chardonnay, 5% pinot noir.
base wine fermented/elevage in enameled steel tanks and oak barrels.
dark gold color; apples, pears, and meyer lemon citrus and aromas. A density and richness in this wine that is driven by the full, round fruit.
I've been coming to Ocracoke Island every summer-- religiously-- since the 1980s, and I've watched the island grow and change. In some ways, Ocracoke's transformation is a good, healthy thing. In other ways, a precious local culture has been diminished.
For the better half of the last century Ocracoke has been a seafaring town, known for great fishermen. The US government had several sea-based operations here, including Fort Ocracoke (a Civil War outpost on Beacon Island), the first radar base in the world (spurred by the need to locate the German U-Boats that were ravaging the Atlantic Coast during the wars), and one of the best Coast Guard stations on the east coast, which is still thriving today.
Ocracoke is a tiny and charming town. The residents have their own dialect known as brogue, which many people lament is dying away and being lost due to the influence of outside dialects. The residential population has grown to just less than 1,000 people. The first bar on Ocracoke Island opened in 1979 (Howard's Pub), and by the 1980s there were several established restaurants serving alcohol.
Things changed in 2001 when Ocracoke beach was voted the #1 beach in America. Ocracoke tourism boomed. Houses went up, the ferries were jam-packed with SUVs and tourists, and it was nearly impossible to find a place to stay. During this time, I became a bit disenchanted with the island. Locals with whom I'd built relationships were overwhelmed with tourists who failed to appreciate and respect their culture, and had become distasteful of these 'invaders.' The line between 'locals' and 'tourists' grew stronger, and each group's disrespect for the other grew. Tourists increasingly took advantage of the island; invading dunes, for example, trashing hotel rooms, and treating hardscrabble local businesses with the indifference that one might treat a corporate store such as Walmart. And the disrespect went the other way too; some people who owned rental houses worked out all sorts of scams to take advantage of tourists-- we were hit by a few of these frustrating scams over the years. North Carolina saw major revenue potential in tourism here and hiked property taxes.
Then the recession hit and tourism dropped off. It was surreal-- one year the island was packed and brimming with people clamoring to spend their dollars, the next year it seemed like a ghost island, and everyone who owned real estate was suddenly struggling with this new property tax burden. Ocracoke faced another tragedy: in 2009 as the fireworks team transported the fireworks for the 4th of July show, a spark was somehow lit and the truck exploded, killing several people. They haven't had a fireworks show since.
Over the last few years, I've seen a gradual increase in balance, as faithful tourists return and locals accept the transition from a seafaring economy to a tourist economy. Many of the residents live in Ocracoke for just part of the year, and the increasing number of part-time residents has helped to blur the sharp delineiation between tourist and local.
Ocracoke has had ups and downs, but it is a remarkable place, with remarkable locals, and incredible natural habitats for wildlife and unique plants. There are also several wonderful restaurants. During your visit, here are some places to eat & drink on this beautiful island:
Where to Eat and Drink on Ocracoke Island
The Flying Melon
The Flying Melon offers great breakfasts (they also serve dinner and have a bar that is open late-night), but boy, do they have a great breakfast menu. Sweet potato pancakes, pain perdu, eggs any way, fresh fruit and yogurt... They also serve some of the greatest Hatteras Chowder I've tasted in a long time.
SmacNally's is located just off the marina, and as you dine on the dock you can watch the fishermen bring in their catches. Seating is outdoor only, which means this is not a place to eat on a rainy day! The food menu consists of burgers, fried fish, curly fries, and for drinks you have a few choices of beers: Bud, Bud Light, Yuengling, Corona, or Red Stripe. It's a simple menu, but they know how to make a great burger. The best burger I've ever had in my life is served here. It's called the Greenhead Burger (named after the greenhead flies that plague the island) and it comes with pesto, provolone, and a slice of tomato.
They have live music every night, and if someone great is on the guitar, this can be a magical place to be entertained with some satisfying soul food.
Zillie's Island Pantry
Magical things happen on the porch at Zillie's, a store named after Ocracoke legend Barzilla "Zillie" O'Neal (1859-1936). This is an incredible shop that sells beer, wine, cheese, pantry items and sake. The front porch is scattered with tables, but there is no table service. The idea is that you buy your drinks and snacks at the counter inside, and then stake out a table and chat with the interesting people that gather around you. Zillie's has one of the greatest wine and beer selections on the island (read more about it here), but the most amazing part about this place is that the porch invokes a special feel of community. Every time I sit on Zillie's porch I meet some of the most interesting people; it's a place to learn, share, and be inspired by the diversity of our community. And don't miss the giant fig tree that grows right next to the porch.
*Zillie's sells cigars, and these are often smoked on the porch. If you love cigars, this is a major plus! If you hate cigar smoke, you might want to grab a bottle to go!
Ocracoke Coffee was the first coffee shop on Ocracoke Island, founded in 1996. This place has history: it was once the home of Ocracoke locals, Monk and Iva Garrish. They'd receive locals on their front porch for chats, news, and storytelling, and the front porch is used for these same things today. If you get there early, you'll find a crew of locals on the porch, waiting for the doors top open, and talking about the latest fishing gossip.
Inside you will find delicious espresso drinks, 4 different kinds of drip coffees, breakfast foods like bagels and granola, pastries, muffins, coffeecake, scones, and some of the most amazing and addictive smoothies I have ever had-- try Nuts and Joltz, a blend of bananas, peanut butter, and espresso.
Need to catch up on some work while you are on the island? You can relax in their seating area with your laptop and hook up to some WiFi. If you arrive during peak coffee-drinking times, be prepared to wait in a 15 minute line... and don't worry, it's worth it!
Ocracoke Coffee also sells Pat Garber's locally made yaupon tea. You can read more about yaupon here. Yaupon grows wild on the island and can also be found in a natural-habitat setting at Springer's Point.
Dajio gets its name from an acronym: Doug and Judy in Ocracoke. Doug and Judy are, of course the owners. This has been an interesting space to watch- I've seen it change hands several times over the last few decades. Dajio has two main dining areas: an outside region and an inside region. Inside, you will find a large dining area that has the feel of a huge screened-in porch. There is also an inner room with a piano and a few tables. As you walk through this restaurant, it is clear that this was once someone's house. The kitchen serves up lovely food. It's not molecular gastronomy but it's as close to fine dining as you will get on Ocracoke Island.
Outside there is a seating area with cocktail tables, walled in by a high brick wall dripping with ivy. There's a tiny stage and if you are lucky you will get to have a snack and a beer while you listen to a guitar player entertain the garden. A small pathway leads from this walled-in area to a wooden sports/beach bar, complete with bar games, a stage for a multi-piece dance band, and lots of wooden tables. Shirts and shoes are not required. When the sun goes down, most nights a dance band will rock the crowd to music that is a mix of Jimmy Buffet, Greateful Dead, and jazz. The real party, though, is out back by the restrooms. The kids who get jobs on Ocracoke during the summer hang out here after work. But the live music stops at 10pm (sound ordinance!), and then the party moves to either Howard's Pub of Gaffers.
The Jolly Roger
The Jolly Roger is open all day, so you can grab a bite to eat even when the other restaurants are closed between lunch and dinner. The dining area is a dock that juts out over the water. Find a table by the edge so you can watch the pelicans. Try the chowder, the hushpuppies, and a pitcher of their house beer. You can catch some live music during the sunset.
Pony Island is a hotel, with a hotel restaurant next door. This is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurants on the island. It's a real establishment and I've been having breakfast here since I was a small child. When you enter this restaurant, you almost feel as if you are in the mess deck of a boat. This is the place to get a simple, no-nonsense breakfast for a great value. Stick to the basics-- coffee, grits, "pony potatoes," biscuits and gravy; you get the idea. They also serve a great dinner that features fresh local catch.
Howard's Pub is pretty much the first thing you pass on your right when you enter the town of Ocracoke from the north side of the island. This is an iconic establishment, opened in 1979 by Edgar Howard's son, Ronnie. Edgar Howard, a vaudeville entertainer by trade, had this to say when Ronnie opened the bar: "We'll have hard-core hippies, hard-core Yankees, and hard-core Southerners. We're going to mix them all and I hope they all get along." (Philip 2011)
In 1979, liquor hadn't been sold on Ocracoke for 50 years. The Howard's Pub opening was a big deal. In a way, the opening of Howard's Pub ushered in a new wave of restaurant establishments on the island, and initiated a new phase of island tourism. Though the pub has changed ownership, it's still an important place today-- the bartenders are long-term, seasoned employees. You can get fresh-shucked local oysters and either eat them or drink them in the famous 'oyster shot' (oyster, hot sauce and beer). The menu mentions how little filler is in their meaty crab cakes (in the Outer Banks a "good" crab cake has almost no filler, and crab cakes full of "filler" are rip-offs). The decor is what places like TGIFridays try to copy but never quite succeed in making it feel authentic (bumper stickers, license plates, college flags, and items of local significance cover every inch of the walls). The main dining room is lively and the service is fast and sassy. There is patio dining with huge tables for big groups-- you almost feel like you are in a beer hall. Think burgers, fried pickles, and one of the largest beer selections on the island. And.... you can watch the game on TV.
Denis Jeandeau is one of my favorite young Burgundy producers. He does almost everything himself from start-to-finish. In the vineyard, he is farming organically. In the winery, he is by himself vinifying, racking, bottling. When he gets tired of working the soil by hand he borrows his neighbor's horses. It's fascinating to see a winemaker so young and so focused on his dreams. As you might expect, the wines have as much energy as he does.
Denis Jeandeau 'Vieilles Vignes' Pouilly-Fuisse, 2009 (Burgundy, France)
This is a smooth and rich expression of Pouilly-Fuisse, with beautiful leesy notes. From low-yielding vines that are 50+ years old, half tank, half multiple ages of barrels. Natural yeasts.
Denis Jeandeau 'Secret Mineral' 2010 Pouilly-Fuisse (Burgundy, France)
This is one of my favorite bottlings: Denis' 2010 'Secret Mineral.' It' endlessly dense and rich, so much is going on here, and yet there is a smoothness to the whole experience as you drink a glass of this. From vines that are 40+ years, grown on marl/limestone soils.
1980 is a terrible global vintage, but it's my vintage, and so every year when my birthday comes around, I try to find exceptions to the norm. I've had great luck with 1980 Rioja, and I wasn't sure about California until I received this bottle as a gift and tried it. Wow!
I opened this up at a party with the appropriate company of great friends and a serious cheese plate.
I love watching these low alcohol California cabernets age. They are amazing.
Kalin Cellars cabernet sauvignon 1980 (Santa Barbara, CA)
The interesting thing about the flavor profile of this was an intense pepper on the nose- green bell pepper and black peppercorns. I spoke with some collector friends about this, and they mentioned that this pepper nose is a characteristic of Santa Barbera cabernet. It was a far cry from standard California cabernets, and a real treat to enjoy!
Founded by Terry & Frances Leighton in 1977, Kalin's approach to winemaking is long term. These wines are released late and they are meant to be drunk with age. Do they hold up? Yes!
Jeffrey Grosset is a superstar of Australian winemaking. He and his wife both make incredible, dense, structured, acid-for-days rieslings (his wife, Stephanie Toole, under a different label: Mount Horrocks).
He works with a few vineyards, but the Polish Hill site is the prime piece of vineyard real estate. The Polish Hill vineyard is just north of Mount Horrocks with a shale/clay over slate soil structure. The first release of this wine was in 1980, and it's been organically farmed since 1998.
A while back I got to have a sip of this interesting piece of Australian history!
Grosset 'Polish Hill' riesling 1998 (Clare Valley, Australia)
the most striking feature of this was its concentrated density. there were aromas and flavors of apricots and honey-- the usual suspects in an old riesling, but the mineral density on the palate was really incredible!
Here is a true relic-- a cork from a Grosset bottle!
Jeffrey is a major supporter of the Stelvin closure and today his production is 100% screw-cap. But if you can get your hands on some older bottles, you may find a renegade cork!
And, last but not least, for all you computer geeks out there-- how cool are the Grosset fonts?!?
I’m Erin, and I’m thirsty for drinks and the secrets they hold. Wine is my main game, but I’ve been known to love a cocktail here and there, and who doesn’t like a good beer on the regular? This blog is for wine/spirits/beer geeks. No beverage will be left unsipped!