BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Chef Arie Pavlou and Sommelier Dianne Delaney with a portion of the 105 pounds of found wild oyster mushroom.
"Shroom hunter hits the mother lode in Riverhead, Cutchogue," by Samantha Brix, L.I. Wine Press, Suffolk Times, and Riverhead News-Neview, November 29, 2011
Arie Pavlou said he looks just like Little Red Riding Hood when he goes mushroom hunting in the woods of the North Fork. He’ll wear a big jacket and carry a woven basket with the top open so his captured mushrooms are exposed to air.
He does differ from the fairytale character in at least one respect.
“I don’t skip in the woods,” he joked.
Mr. Pavlou, the executive chef at , has been hunting for mushrooms since he was 5 years old and living in Cyprus. He and his friends would head into the woods two to three days after rainfall, when mushrooms were most likely to be popping up out of the ground and emerging from tree trunks.
Using knives to cut mushrooms at the stems, Mr. Pavlou has been harvesting different mushroom species and cooking up the edible ones for as long as he can remember.
Mr. Pavlou was roaming through the woods, woven basket in hand, in Riverhead and Cutchogue last week and came home with a mushroom hunter’s dream discovery: 105 pounds of wild oyster mushrooms. He found the majority of it in Riverhead and the rest in Cutchogue.
Wild oyster mushrooms aren’t rare finds on the East End by any stretch — Mr. Pavlou and fellow hunters happen upon the species at least once a season. But Mr. Pavlou and other Long Island hunters had never encountered such a large amount.
He immediately called Margaret and Joel Horman, 20-year members of the Long Island Mycological Club who live in Ridge, to confirm his finding.
“They got really excited,” Mr. Pavlou said. “They said oh, it’s a perfect specimen.’”
ARIE PAVLOU PHOTO | A picture Chef Arie Pavlou snapped of wild mushrooms growing on a tree.
Mr. Horman said he and his wife, both experienced mushroom hunters, were able to identify the mushrooms without using a microscope or chemicals, which is sometimes required with more obscure species.
“That’s one of the easier species to identify,” Mr. Horman said. “We had never seen such a large collection. It was really overwhelming.”
Upon confirmation that the mushrooms were edible, Mr. Pavlou immediately brought the bounty into his kitchen. He breaded and baked, he sautéed, he fried and he stewed to see which method worked best with the thick-textured mushrooms.
Dianne Delaney, sommelier at Comtesse Therese Bistro, paired the mushrooms, which are breaded and baked much like a veal cutlet, withComtesse Therese Vineyards's 2009 Russian Oak Chardonnay.
“The Chardonnay complimented the mushroom’s flavor and texture and really brought out the wild, mushroomy essence,” she said.
She said the tannins in red wines would be “too overpowering” and would mask with the subtle flavor of the mushroom.
“What you have is a gift from the gods of the woods and you want to appreciate exactly that: the earthiness, the texture, the flavor,” she said.
When the mushrooms are served as an accompaniment to steak and other red meat entrees, Ms. Delaney suggests serving it with Comtesse Therese Vineyard’s 2005 Chateau Reserve Merlot.
A favorite dish among the bistro’s staff was Brie En Croute, which involves sautéing and stewing the wild oyster mushrooms with cream and sage for four hours, and then folding the mushrooms and brie into a puff pastry to be baked.
To thank the Hormans for confirming his find, Mr. Pavlou gave them 20 pounds of his wild oyster mushrooms, which are named as such because their tops look like oyster shells.
The Hormans gave Mr. Pavlou trumpet of death mushrooms —black, trumpet-shaped mushrooms — in return.
Mushroom trading, Mr. Pavlou said, is a common courtesy.
“That’s what you do in the mushroom world,” he said.
In the Tasting Room, the Cheese Plate Evolves
Susan M. Novick, Cutchogue, September 9, 2011
IT was a rather simple snack that Harold Butler, 37, of Red Hook, Brooklyn, enjoyed with his friends one afternoon recently on the open-air pavilion at Bedell Cellars here, overlooking the vineyard. But Mr. Butler savored the last bits of the cheese plate garnished with pickles and fig-nut bread as he sipped a chardonnay blend called Gallery.
“There are certain wines that stand on their own but are also perfect to drink with food,” he said.
Food is part of the wine-tasting process on Long Island at a number of the area’s wineries, though state law in most cases limits them to serving “food which is ordinarily consumed without the use of tableware.” Recently, some have brought in chefs to serve tapas and other fare; one winery owner has opened a bistro. But even where the offerings consist mainly of cheese plates and the like, the ambience helps compensate.
At Bedell, tastings at the sleek bar inside are supplemented on weekends by what the winery calls V.I.P. table service, on a dedicated pavilion; reservations are recommended. There, a server takes customers’ orders for wine as well as regional cheese plates from the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck. On Saturdays, local oysters are available by the dozen.
As a more casual option, visitors can order cheese plates (or oysters on Saturdays) at a bar on the patio adjacent to the pavilion, and take them to a table on the patio or have a picnic on the lawn.
At Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, Suellen Tunney, the retail sales manager, said sales of food, including cheese and charcuterie platters and bottled waters, had increased 35 percent over sales last year.
“I’ve noticed a big trend where people want the whole experience,” she said. “They want to take a tour, have a full wine tasting and a cheese plate or several cheese plates.”
Wölffer serves cheese and charcuterie plates, as well as fruit and nuts, to customers at tables on the patio overlooking the vineyards; wine, of course, is also available, and there is live music on Thursdays and Fridays. The same menu is available at Wölffer’s Wine Stand on Montauk Highway.
At Sparkling Pointe, Leonardo Manno, the tasting house coordinator and wholesale account executive, started Foodie Sundays this summer, with local chefs preparing appetizers for the tastings. Recently, Noah Schwartz of Noah’s in Greenport served bite-size portions of local sea scallop ceviche and deviled eggs topped with crabmeat to be paired with the 2007 Brut.
“When we bring in a chef and make it more intimate, it enhances both the food and the wine,” Mr. Manno said. (The appetizers are allowed by law, he said, because the food is brought in by the chefs rather than prepared on the premises.)
Visitors to Sparkling Pointe at other times can assemble their own picnics from the gift shop, or order prepackaged food items at tables on the vineyard patio or in the grand, modern tasting room with crystal chandeliers and colorful Brazilian art. Food pairings for the winery’s sparkling wines might include Iavarone Brothers dried sausage, duck pâté, tins of caviar, Orient Farm lavender honey and an array of New York cheeses.
Jamesport Vineyards in Jamesport secured a 20C license this year to prepare its own food for wine tastings. On weekends, Paolo Fontana, the executive chef of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University and a former sous-chef at Restaurant Mirabelle in Stony Brook, makes tapas in the vineyard garden, accompanied by wine tastings and live music.
Mr. Fontana uses Jamesport wines in his recipes: Peconic Bay clams are steamed in chardonnay and lemon verbena; cabernet franc is used to caramelize jerk chicken.
“Long Island wines are food-friendly wines,” said Jake Perdie, the retail manager at Jamesport Vineyards. “Because of the high acidity of these wines and the low alcohol, it makes them very easy to pair.”
Gordon M. Grant for The New York Times
Duck confit is on the menu at Comtesse Thérèse bistro, which opened last fall
Last fall, Comtesse Thérèse in Aquebogue opened a bistro on a half-acre with a small vineyard and an herb garden. It offers wines from the 10-year-old Comtesse Thérèse winery as a complement to the French-inspired menu of the chef, Arie Pavlou, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris; the manager and sommelier is Dianne Delaney.
The restaurant is allowed because the property is zoned for commercial use, according to Theresa Dilworth, the owner of Comtesse Thérèse; the main vineyard is about a half-mile away. The emphasis is on fresh, local ingredients like smoked duck breast from Crescent Duck Farm in Aquebogue and pan-seared Montauk sea scallops.
Wine tastings are offered in the bar or in the garden, with nibbles that include house-brined herbed olives and house-smoked bacon. (Although a small amount of wine is made on the premises, the Comtesse Thérèse wines are made primarily by Premium Wine Group in Mattituck.)
During lunch and dinner hours, customers can order from the bistro menu and sample wines in the 28-seat restaurant. On a recent afternoon, a rich onion soup was paired with the 2008 Comtesse Thérèse Russian Oak Chardonnay; the escargots with a 2008 rosé; and the smoked duck breast with the 2006 Hungarian Oak Merlot.
Ms. Dilworth recalled her early days as a vineyard owner when none of the vineyards offered any food. “I never really liked the idea of standing up and drinking wine,” she said. “I prefer the food and the wine to be on equal footing.”
Food plays a part in the second annual Harvest Wine Auction and Celebration of Long Island’s East End, presented by Food & Wine magazine and being held through Sept. 17 at various locations. The schedule features wine salons, a tasting and a gala dinner and wine auction. Tickets and information: harvesteastend.com.
Gordon M. Grant for The New York Times
POUR IT ON Dianne Delaney is the manager and sommelier at Comtesse Thérèse bistro in Aquebogue.
The following establishments serve food in some form on a regular basis:
AQUEBOGUE Comtesse Thérèse Bistro, 739 Main Road; comtessetherese.com; (631) 779-2800. Wine tastings, Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; lunch, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; dinner, Wednesday through Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m. Merlot flight (three wines), $6. Platter of olives, cheese and house-smoked bacon, $16.50; French onion soup, $10; escargots, $11.75; smoked local duck breast, $25.
CUTCHOGUE Bedell Cellars, 36225 Main Road; (631) 734-7537; bedellcellars.com. V.I.P. wine-tasting table service, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food service, Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Table service through October; cheese plates available indoors year round. Estate flight tasting (six wines): $18. Wines by the glass, around $6 to $20. New York cheese plate (four cheeses, pickles, fig cake, croustades), $18; Peconic Bay oysters, $15 a dozen (Saturdays only, through October).
JAMESPORT Jamesport Vineyards, Main Road, Route 25; jamesportwines.com; (631) 722-5256. Food available Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., from Memorial Day to Halloween. Cover charge of $10 includes one glass of wine and admission to vineyard garden with live music and expanded food menu. Premium Tasting Flight (six wines), $14. Steamed local clams, $12; local oysters on the half-shell, $24 a dozen (price changes depending on the season); jerk chicken, $10; roasted corn, $3.
SAGAPONACK Wölffer Estate Vineyard, 139 Sagg Road; (631) 537-5106; wolffer.com.
Food served Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Twilight Thursdays with live jazz at the main tasting room, 5 to 8 p.m. Sunset Fridays with live jazz at the Wine Stand, 5 p.m. to sunset, through September. Premium Tasting (four wines): $12; Grand Tasting (four wines): $18. Cheese plate (three cheeses, fig and almond cake, quince jam and crackers): $20; charcuterie plate (two cheeses, two cured meats, whole-grain mustard, crackers), $20; dried fruit and nuts, $10.
SOUTHOLD Sparkling Pointe Vineyards and Winery, 39750 County Road 48; (631) 765-0200; sparklingpointe.com. Food is available during regular tasting room hours, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Foodie Sundays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (On Sept. 11, Mark Cassin, a k a the Big Cheese, will visit with an assortment of cheeses.) Alaskan salmon roe, $14 for two ounces; Hudson Valley camembert, $12 for four ounces; Orient Farm lavender honey, $4 for two ounces.
Published: June 1, 2011 2:20 PM
By Joan Reminick email@example.com
It's a natural, the concept of a restaurant within a winery. But it wasn't until last fall that Long Island's first, Comtesse Thèrése Bistro, was born at its namesake vineyard.
A historic restaurant, for sure, fittingly situated within a 19th century manse, along with the vineyard's wine-tasting room.
In a dining room furnished with Duncan Phyfe period pieces, constellations are painted onto the ceiling; ornate mirrors line the walls. I'm told diners and crew alike have seen shadowy reflections. Ghosts? Something to ponder as I sip the winery's big, dark reserve merlot.
Past and present merge in chef Arie Pavlou's French bistro menu, which optimizes local resources and herbs grown on-site. The $35 prix-fixe on Wednesday and Thursday evenings is quite the buy.
A prime starter on that dinner is a lovely cream of asparagus soup, the springtime elixir crowned with a fresh asparagus spear. On the a la carte menu, escargots are plump, redolent of garlic. I'm surprised how light and appealing a combination of Brie and wild mushrooms in puff pastry turns out to be.
My favorite prix-fixe entree is a juicy, peppery hanger steak au poivre. Locally caught fluke with capers and olives, while good, can't compete. Nor can the a la carte lamb shank confit, a trifle dry. But the Crescent Farms smoked duck breast -- hauntingly smoky, tender and moist -- is the hit of the evening.
Crepes Suzette in a fragrant Grand Marnier sauce crowned with house-made vanilla ice cream are very good. Better yet is an almond-crusted local blueberry tart that epitomizes wine country eating.
Upstairs, we check out the library and Versailles Room, used for private wine tastings and dinners. Stuffed foxes and pheasants from vineyard owner Teresa Dilworth's taxidermy collection add to the sense that the past lives on at this very North Fork dining spot.
Photo credit: Randee Daddona
Brie en croute, with brie and wild mushrooms in puff pastry, is served with a small mesclun salad at Comtesse Therese Bistro in Aquebogue. (May 13, 2011)
739 Main Rd. Aquebogue, NY 11931
link to Newsday photo gallery
Click the link above to see the Newsday video of the Bistro!
COMTESSE THÉRÈSE BISTRO
Aquebogue (631) 779-2800
0 stars = poor
1 star = satisfactory
2 stars = good
3 stars = very good
4 stars = excellent
5 stars - extraordinary
When he’s not in the kitchen, Aristodemos Pavlou, the chef at Comtesse Thérèse Bistro in Aquebogue, hunts for game and forages for mushrooms, ramps and wild fiddlehead ferns. He gets duck from his neighbor, the Crescent Duck Farm, and fish from Phil Karlin, a Mattituck commercial fisherman. The twenty types of herbs he uses come from the Bistro’s own garden. Apples and cider are just a lot away at the Woodside Farms. Other ingredients come from nearby farm stands and the eleven wines available originate at Comtesse Thérèse from its own vines, for it is the Island’s only vineyard with a restaurant.
The restaurant is in an 1835 house that once served as a church rectory. It has been brought back to life by the keen eye of its owner Thérèsa (Tree) Dilworth, a tax attorney by day and a winemaker away from her lawyer duties. She spent four years converting the 180-year-old building (doing much of the construction herself) into a quaint, charming, country-style restaurant with rooms that make diners feel as though they are eating in the home of a bygone era.
All of this would be unremarkable in France where lovely old homes, local ingredients, antique furnishings and very distinctive, individualistic restaurants are the rule rather than the exception. But on Long Island, Comtesse Thérèse is one of a kind.
Although the restaurant’s signs, wine barrels (six of which spell out the word “bistro” in flashing neon), etc. are a bit over the top, its tasteful interior is a place of hand-gilded detail, old breakfronts holding silver and glassware, bare polished wood tables, carpeting, chandeliers, oversized framed mirrors and traditional art.
Comtesse Thérèse’s French-skewed food is traditional as well. Dishes like escargots, onion soup, brie en croute, foie gras, chicken chasseur, tarte tatin and crême brulée dot the menu. Most of them are rewarding successes. And why not? Mr. Pavlou is a classically-trained French chef educated at Le Cordon Bleu L’Art Academe in Paris.
After receiving some exceptional, warm, house-made rolls and soft butter, we sampled a dense French onion soup ($16) for the ages, bursting with the flavor of a local duck stock. Had it been any thicker, it could be cut with a knife. A cream of asparagus soup of the day ($7.50) offered delicate taste and consistency, but needed a hefty dose of salt. Six good, garlicky escargots ($11.75) and brie en croute, ($12) or warm brie and wild mushrooms in puff pastry paired with cool greens, are other recommended starters.
Among the entrées, the fish of the day ($24), rascas, a firm white-fleshed bay fish popular in France paired stew-like with fava beans and tomatoes was light and fine. A huge take home-sized lamb shank confit ($25) was tasty but hard rather than fall-away tender. Well-done, smoked local duck breast retained its taste and most of its moisture, but would’ve been better medium rare (our competent waiter didn’t ask how we wanted it). Sautéed chicken ($23), in a rich cream sauce, more than passed muster.
The house-made desserts here are an especially strong course. The large tarte of the day (blueberry one day) accompanied by almond cream is a steal at $7.50. The tiny tarte tatin ($9) boasts a scoop of house-made ice cream, three chocolate truffles ($10) made with wonderful Belgium chocolate are delicious and best of all is the gâteau de château ($8.50), a powerful chocolate cake drenched in warm chocolate, blackberry brandy sauce that provides chocoholics with an almost orgasmic high.
photos by stephen lang
Author: Richard Jay Scholem
Richard Jay Scholem practically invented the Long Island restaurant culture through 800+ reviews of the region's eateries both on radio and in print over the last 30 years. He is a former New York Times Long Island Section restaurant reviewer, has contributed to the Great Restaurants of...magazines and Bon Vivant, authored a book, aired reviews on WGSM and WCTO radio stations, served on the board of countless community and food and beverage organizations, and received many accolades for his journalism in both print and broadcast media. He is currently available for restaurant consultation. Reach him at (631) 271-3227.
Comtesse Thérèse Bistro, www.exploreli.com (Newsday)
Type: Bistros- Brasseries, French, Winery
Special features: Lunch, Outdoor Seating
Price range: (no rating)
Surrounded by regal mirrors, bits of vintage art and tables placed closely together, one could imagine this more a Gold Coast mansion than the bistro extension of the Comtesse Thérèse Vineyards. However, this space is absolutely an open place to come and dine, with a friendly atmosphere and attention to detail the norm. The food is born of French inspiration (and much of it is grown on the premises), with local duck, seafood and vegetables the staple ingredients. Salads and desserts are also part of the menu, and being that wines are really the original impetus of the grounds, be sure and take on some tastings while on the premises.
DAN'S PAPER review, Issue #44, Feb. 4, 2011
Restaurant Review: Comtesse Therese
By Stacy Dermont
The North Fork's newest destination restaurant, Comtesse Thérese in Aquebogue, is cute on the outside, with six wine barrels spelling out "BISTRO" at the foot of the driveway and white wrought iron lawn furniture in the back courtyard. But its outward appearance didn't prepare us for what lay within.
After we entered the front door of this circa 1835 country rectory, we passed through a narrow hall and boom! We were suddenly on the North Fork of France. Who knew? Owner and winemaker Tree Dilworth has spent several years realizing her rich fantasy in this unique establishment.
Opened just four months ago, Comtesse Thérese looks like it's been here, on the North Fork of France, for a good 180 years. One expects to run into novelist George Sand or perhaps Honore de Balzac at the tasting bar.
We passed through The Sky Room and into The Constellation Room for our meal. Aubusson-style carpets, hand-gilded details, crystal chandeliers, lyre-back chairs - the décor is High Romantic French Country but my manly husband was not at all chastened by the fabu atmosphere. In fact, he was very proud of himself for noting the grape motif along the edges of the large mirror near his seat. Bon travail, mon chere! He also quite liked The Versailles Room, which is used for private parties. We took a peek at its red walls, petit point wall hangings and taxidermy residents. Definitely fit for a king.
And what pastoral French bistro would be complete without a fast-talking, wise-cracking Bostonian sommelier? Dianne Delaney hails from Bean Town but she trained in Europe and she certainly knows her wines. Delaney is always at hand to offer suggestions for wine choices and apropos wine pairings. Some Comtesse Thérese wines, such as their 2005 Chateau Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (peaking right now), are available exclusively at the bistro. The house's most popular wine is its 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot. Try it; it's dry and subtly spicy.
And then there's the food. Fantastique!
For all you Francophiles: OUI! The foie gras and creme brulee are all that they should be. And my apologies - with all the specials at hand we failed to sample the escargot. I trust that Le Cordon Bleu grad Chef Aristodemos Pavlou does that just right as well. It's on the regular menu, so you can try it any time.
We started with soups - lentil for moi, French onion for him. Both were perfumed with rosemary from Comtesse Thérese's herb garden. I didn't know how very rich duck broth was until I tried this soup. Chef sent out an amuse bouche of sliced Crescent Farms duck leg. I'm a little standoffish with duck - but when in Aquebogue...the duck was not gamy but very flavorful and moist. Daily specials included Smoked Duck Breast, a Veal Chop and the Catch of the Day was Pan-seared Shinnecock Scallops served with jasmine rice. My husband went for the scallops, I chose the classic Chicken Chasseur from the regular menu. The scallops, bejeweled with pomegranate seeds were obviously very good - I didn't even get a taste! My braised chicken was a tender perfection, in a well-balanced sauce of wine and olives.
Most of the ingredients are local, of those that aren't local - most are American grown. In fact, the apples and cider come from Woodside Farms, immediately next door.
When I asked Chef Pavlou if he had any special equipment in his kitchen he quipped, "The chef is the equipment!" I took an opportunity to watch him in action as he cut the ties from long rolls of braised rabbit, prepared for that evening's Slow Food dinner party. He will forever be Arie "The Blur in the Toque" Pavlou to me.
One of the few true French bistros on the East End, Comtesse Thérese is filled with delights. Make your Valentine's Day reservations now - it's sure to be popular with lovers.
My dessert recommendation for valentines: share a piece of the puddlingly chocolatey Gateau de Chateau from the same plate and then buy a bottle of red wine and some house-made Belgian chocolate truffles to go - enjoy them at home denude....
Comtesse Thérese, 739 Main Road, Aquebogue.
Dan's Papers, June 2, 2011, Local Wine Pairings by Tree Dilworth
Local Food and Wine Pairings from East End Vineyard Owner & Restaurateur, Tree Dilworth
Comtesse Thérèse is the only Long Island vineyard that also owns a restaurant, Comtesse Thérèse Bistro in Aquebogue. Vineyard owner/winemaker/restaurateur Tree Dilworth shares thoughts on which wines she’d pair with her food and why.
Bowl of Olives
Our olives are house-brined and tossed with olive oil and herbs from the Bistro garden. I’d pair with the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. Why? Two reasons. First, both olives and sauvignon blanc are light, not too filling, and good for “starters.”îSecond, the wine’s crispness and acidity complements the tart olives. The year 2009 was a cool and rainy growing season on Long Island, not a hot dry one, so it brought out a hint of healthy, light green vegetable aromas in addition to the fresh citrus characters, the perfect complement to olives.
Escargots with Garlic and Parsley Butter
We serve the escargots broiled with sizzling butter, garlic and parsley. Spring, summer and fall, we use our own parsley. Before broiling, Chef simmers the escargots in our own rosé and herbs and spices for quite a bit of time to soften and infuse them. I’d pair with our 2008 Rosé. Refreshing and off-dry, the rosé goes with just about anything, but I think it especially good with salty, savory appetizers – like smoked salmon, prosciutto and charcuterie. We make it from bleeding off the white inner juice from cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes.
Pan-Seared Montauk Sea Scallops
Our chef, Chef Aristodemos (Arie) Pavlou, makes Montauk day-boat pan-seared scallops with various accompaniments and occasionally broils them as well. Last night I had them with some lightly seasoned rice and a vegetable ragout of zucchini, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Our Russian Oak Chardonnay is an obvious choice with fish. We only make one style of chardonnay, and this is it. It’s barrel-fermented, but crisp and not overly oaky – particularly the 2008, which we just released. The tiny hint of hazelnut and vanilla from the oak complements those luscious, charred brown, slightly sweet, pan-seared edges, which are my favorite part of the juicy scallops.
Local Duck Leg Confit
Chef Arie makes classic, falling-off-the-bone-tender confit de canard from Crescent Farms duck leg, along with North Fork potatoes from Kozak Farms, local spinach from Schmitt’s Farm and a sauce that includes herbs from the Bistro garden. The soft, fatty, rich, meaty and juicy duck goes well with a ripe, soft, fat, easy-drinking wine – which merlots generally are. I’d pair with our 2005 Traditional Merlot. Aged in French oak, I am trying to replicate say, a Bordeaux Third Growth. The 2005 was a good, ripe vintage where we had hot sunny weather all summer, albeit 19 inches of rainfall the week of harvest, that ruined a lot of the crop. There is some power and richness to this merlot, along with scents of walnut skins and tobacco.
House-Smoked Local Duck Breast
We have two small smokers in which Chef Arie smokes the duck breasts using local hickory and cherry wood branches harvested by a friend in Southold. The sweet, earthy smokiness imparted to the rich duck meat by the fruit and nut woods is similar to the smoky oak tannins imparted to the wine by the oak barrels.
The duck breast, flavorfully browned on the outside but still rare and juicy on the inside, looks and tastes almost like a tender steak. So it is a good choice for those who think of red meat with merlot.
I’d pair with our 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot. The Hungarian Oak barrels make this easy-drinking wine stand out. The long, earthy, dark espresso finish complements the dark-smoked, slightly charred brown exterior of the duck breast, while the plum and dark cherry flavors complement the pink, juicy, soft interior of the duck breast.
Dan's Papers, May 27, 2011, Sommelier Stress by Dianne Delaney
After the server has introduced herself to the table, and shared the many seasonal specials of the day, the Sommelier approaches the table to assist in a wine selection. What follows is an actual verbal exchange that I engaged in one evening:
“Good evening, may I assist you in a wine selection?” says the Sommelier.
“Yes, I would like a French Prosecco,” says the well-dressed female diner.
“I’m sorry we do not have Prosecco, we do have our own local Sparkling Wine we label as Isle,” explains the Sommelier.
“No, I don’t want Sparkling Wine, I will have a glass of French Champagne instead,” says the diner.
Sommelier then explains, “We offer only award-winning North Fork of Long Island, Comtesse Thérese wine.”
The diner then spat, “Fine, I will have a glass of Pinot Grigio!”
Sommelier replies, “I’m sorry we do not have Pinot Grigio.”
“Then WHAT do you have?!” says the diner clearly annoyed.
“Please take a look at our Comtesse Thérese wine list,” Sommelier politely suggests.
Diner looks at page 2 of our menu, “If you are sooo local why do you have wine from Hungary and Russia?”
Sommelier then stifles a laugh and explains, “We use Hungarian, Russian in addition to French, oak barrels to ferment and age our wines.”
“Hmmm, you have many Merlots, I don’t like dry wine, is this Russian Merlot dry?” Diner is now visibly frustrated with the Sommelier. Mind you this exchange is during the height of service on a busy Saturday night!
Sommelier offers, “Let me help you complement your dinner with the perfect wine, what are you going to enjoy for an entrée?”
With a visible roll of her eyes, diner says, “fine, I will have the scallop special.”
Sommelier replies, “Wonderful, we have the perfect wine to complement that dish.” Pan-seared scallops made in a curry and sauternes reduction infused with saffron served with herbed basmati rice and sprinkled with fresh pomegranates. A seasoned Sommelier can almost predict a person’s palate. “Here you go, try this, a taste of our ’08 Blanc de Noir, off-dry 1.5% residual sugar, salmon in color and has a nose of full ripe peaches.”
After the diner took her first sample sip she replied, “WOW, this is really good, why didn’t you just tell me about this wine in the first place?!!”
Sommelier at this point wanted to use the corkscrew in her pocket to drill a hole in her head to release the sheer frustration of dealing with these fabulous diners. Lesson being: your Sommelier is there to assist you in your wine selection, we want you to enjoy a fine dining experience, complementing your food choice with the perfect wine. “Trust your Sommelier, we are there to insure you will enjoy a ‘fine DINING experience,’ not to have a wine DUELING experience.”
Dianne Delaney is the Sommelier at Comtesse Thérese Bistro, 739 Main Road, Aquebogue. 631-779-2800. firstname.lastname@example.org
She has made her “passion her profession” since living in Spain as a teenage foreign exchange student. Prior to that her food experiences were Hamburger Helper, Hi-C, frozen veggies in a bag and Pop Tarts. Wine experiences were stolen sips of Riuniti “on ice, that’s nice” during adult gatherings.
Pairing wine and cheese
Originally published: December 15, 2010 2:38 PM
Updated: December 16, 2010 11:29 AM
By LAUREN R. HARRISON email@example.com
Pairing wine and cheese creates another layer of entertainment for guests who may debate which combinations work best, says Dianne Delaney, sommelier and bistro manager at Comtesse Thérèse Winery & Bistro in Aquebogue.
Not all wines work with all cheeses. "The white wines tend to complement the creamier cheeses and, for the red wines, the complex, full-bodied bold wines, need an equally complex, hard, firm cheese," Delaney says.
WHAT TO BUY
Generally, people have three glasses of wine during an evening, but it can vary per person, Delaney says. Since one wine bottle yields 4 to 6 glasses, she suggests buying a mixed case (12 bottles) for a party of 20.While olives and sliced sausage may be perfect accompaniments to the cheeses, Delaney says hosts can certainly keep it simple with a few good baguettes or other simple, crusty bread."No crackers!" she says.
HOW TO SERVE
"When you serve red wine, room temperature is not room temperature." Delaney prefers to serve reds at cellar temperature, about 64 degrees. Keep the whites refrigerated, she says.Having enough clean glasses on hand is important. Delaney suggests at least one white wine glass and one red wine glass per person. "If you want to get really technical, you could have a glass for each of the wines," she says.Cheese should be served at room temperature - let it sit out at least 30 minutes - and Delaney prefers to have a knife with each cheese. "I arrange the cheese from creamy to semi-firm to firm to aged and ending with blue," she says.
WINE AND CHEESE PAIRING
Cabernet sauvignon and Roquefort cheese.
Cabernet sauvignon is "a big, bold grape flavor" with deep cherry color. The grape is from the Bordeaux region, Delaney says, aged in oak barrels according to the traditional style. Look for complex flavors of berries, spice and leather. "A cabernet should be very round and supple on the palate," she says. "It should have a beautiful, long finish with velvety tannins."Roquefort (French) is a blue cheese made from raw sheep's milk, which Delaney described as "big and bold, salty and sweet." Other blue cheeses, such as Gorgonzola from Italy or domestics like Maytag Blue, also work with cabernet sauvignon.
WHY THEY WORK "They brought out both of the best characteristics of the wine and the cheese," Delaney says. "Beautiful, upfront blackberry notes followed by the cheese: big, bold, salty and sweet.
"WINE AND CHEESE PAIRING
Sauvignon blanc and Catapano Chevre
Sauvignon blanc is characteristically marked by notes of citrus with sharp acidity. The wine is generally fermented in stainless-steel tanks, Delaney says. "It is a ripe, refreshing white wine."Catapano Chevre (Long Island) is a fresh, goat's milk cheese from Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic, sold at the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck as well as many local cheese counters - and at the dairy itself. " a fresh, local goat's milk cheese. It was just soft, white and creamy and very mild," Delaney says. Coach Farm is another widely available brand of fresh goat's cheese from the Hudson Valley
WHY THEY WORK "The mildness of the cheese and sharpness of the acidity of the sauvignon blanc complement each other," Delaney says.
WINE AND CHEESE PAIRING
Comtesse Thérèse's 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot and Comté (France)
Cherry in color, most merlots are aged in oak barrels, reflecting the Bordeaux style, says Dianne Delaney, sommelier and bistro manager at Comtesse Thérèse Winery & Bistro in Aquebogue. If you can't find Comtesse Thérèse's merlot, Delaney suggested a wine with "a nice forward fruit of berries," meaning the wine's first impression is fruit versus acid. "You want this wine to be round and smooth with nice acidity and a nice spiciness of black pepper and cinnamon."The Comté is a raw cow's milk cheese that Delaney described as "smooth and nutty." Another comparable cheese is Gruyére, a Swissversion of Comté.
WHY THEY WORK "The merlot brought out the flavors of the nuttiness of this particular cheese. The cheese became almost sweet in its finish," says Delaney. "It was a beautiful combination."
INFO Comtesse Thérèse Winery & Bistro, 739 Main Rd., Aquebogue, 631-779-2800, comtessetherese.com
Owner Tree Dilworth's live interview on Fox Business Network. Dec. 3, 2010 "Room for Wine During Recession"
Can't Keep This 'Winer' Down
By Tracy Byrnes
Published December 03, 2010 | FOXBusiness
Theresa Dilworth, owner of the Comtesse Thérèse vineyards, came down from the upstairs office of her new bistro with a cane and a bandaged foot because the ladder fell while she was putting up Christmas lighting. A week earlier, she had fallen off the roof while trying to fix something -- herself.
An international tax attorney by day and owner of a 42-acre vineyard by, well, weekend, Theresa (or Tree, as her friends call her) clearly is not afraid to be challenged – or get hurt.
During the week, she handles global tax transactions for a multinational company in Purchase, N.Y. Then, every Friday night she drives 1.5 hours out to Aquebogue on the North Fork of Long Island to spend the weekend planting grapes, decorating her new bistro, making candles, or whatever else this closet-Laura Ingalls feels must get done.
But that’s the two sides of Tree. She and her husband bought an uncultivated piece of property out on Long Island as a New York City getaway back in late 90s. Every weekend, they’d leave their Manhattan high-rise apartment and sleep in tents – yes, tents -- on the property, fixing it up until the actual home was complete.
Back then, Tree had no interest in growing grapes or making wine.
But thanks to the encouragement and financial interest of a friend, she found herself buying another 40 acres that again needed to be cultivated. This time, for grapes.
We sat in the tasting room of her new Comtesse Thérèse French bistro, a converted home from the 1800s, as she told me her story. It didn’t take long for me to feel like a slacker.
But we did have something in common. Tree is an Ernst & Young alum, like myself. I actually met Tree back in 2005 at a tasting bar in downtown Manhattan. The bar, since closed, only served wines produced in New York. Tree was there, personally pouring her own. And I remember thinking back then how cool it was that this corporate attorney was making wine on the weekend, for kicks. (Come to think of it, she made me feel like a slacker back then, too.)
But, clearly, wine-producing is for more than just kicks. Obviously, it can be quite painful -- and expensive. Tree has dumped all of her own money into the place. She uses her own blood and sweat to plant, grow and produce the wine, and, like most wise small business owners, she’s recruited her family. Her husband has since made a drastic career change, leaving the executive suite of the steel industry to become the in-house sommelier. And her parents come out Monday through Friday to work the property.
In the first year the land was ready, she only planted one acre of grapes to learn the process. The following year, she increased to five acres. Today, 42 acres are covered with all types of grapes from Sauvignon Blanc to Malbec to Syrah (the last two due in 2011).
But the problem with grapes? They take years to grow and Tree needed that property to start making money ASAP. So in 2001, she bought grapes from a local vineyard and started making some wine.
My Wine Lesson
I mentioned in my first column that the weather, the grapes and the oak used in the barrels can all change the taste of your wine.
Interestingly enough, European countries like Italy, France and Germany have strict rules on the kind of oak you must use. Not in the U.S., though. Feel free to pick your oak.
So in an effort to differentiate herself, she did. She started tinkering with different oaks and has since created top notch wines in oak barrels from Russia and Hungary. And she is currently producing one with Canadian oak, which she says will be the first truly all North American wine available.
Now, in accordance to the column, I asked her to pick her favorite wine, but asking a vintner to pick her favorite wine is much like asking a mother to pick her favorite kid.
Instead she picked her customers’ favorite: The Comtesse Therese 2007 Russian Oak Chardonnay, which retails for about $20.
I stuck my nose in the glass and was able to smell pepper. She got that as well as nutmeg and clove, and pointed out that oak, not the grapes, was influencing the smell.
Now I don’t often drink chardonnay, but as I swished it around my mouth, that Russian oak offered a cinnamon taste to me.
Certainly not the chardonnay I’ve had in the past.
Chef Arie Pavlou sent out escargots and a brie en croute, which was brie, wild mushrooms and their home-grown sage in a flaky pastry crust. And with that, we moved on to her 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot.
I asked her if she had plans to leave corporate America and do this wine stuff full-time.
"I’m not giving up my day job. I love my job," she said emphatically.
This women spends the work week buried in the tax code and then gets on her hands and knees and plants grape seeds on the weekends just to keep paying the bills.
Yet we have close to 2 million people in this country collecting 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and asking for more.
But not people like Tree. They just keep moving forward. The deals keep coming on the international tax front, and she’s planning to open a Comtesse Thérèse bed and breakfast in her wine world.
"I'm having fun," she says, even with the bandage on her foot and her cane lying against her chair.
Clearly, it’s all hard work, and she obviously occasionally gets knocked down.
What sets her apart, though, is that she keeps getting back up.
Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide, December 15, 2010
Comtesse Thérèse 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot (North Fork of Long Island); $20. Judicious use of darkly toasted Hungarian oak results in a surprisingly sexy, supple wine that’s dripping with vanilla and spicy dark plum flavors. There’s a slight green twinge to the black cherry flavors on the palate, but this is a smooth, easy-drinking Merlot with a long, earthy, espresso finish. —A.I.
Comtesse Thérèse 2005 Traditional Merlot (North Fork of Long Island); $18. Wonderfully rich with lush dark chocolate and espresso notes, this is another lovely, highly drinkable Merlot from Comtesse Thérèse. There’s a good amount of charred oak, but it’s integrated seamlessly with concentrated black plum and berry flavors. The finish is long, and accented by pleasant astringency of walnut skins and tobacco. —A.I.
Comtesse Thérèse 2004 Château Reserve Merlot (North Fork of Long Island); $30. Layers of char, black pepper and briar patch help to build complexity in this dense, concentrated black plum Merlot. There’s a touch of green leaf and tomato throughout, but overall, it’s a fruit-driven, luscious wine accented with spice and smooth, supple tannins. Aged 24 months in new French oak. —A.I.
Comtesse Thérèse 2005 First Harvest Merlot (North Fork of Long Island); $18. After the scent of char blows off a bit, this first harvest Merlot opens sweetly to aromas of vanilla, cinnamon spice and plush, red plums. There’s a hint of green stalks and leaves detectable on the palate amidst underripe black cherry and plum flavors, but bright acidity gives this wine a fresh character and the spiced plum finish is pleasant. —A.I.
Comtesse Thérèse 2006 Aquebogue Estate Merlot (North Fork of Long Island); $18. The nose offers plenty of cooked plum preserves, warm spice and toasted, nutty oak. There’s a nice, lush texture and body, and bright red cherry and plums flavors on the palate. The fruit flavors may be slightly lacking in concentration, but supple tannins make for smooth, easy sipping. —A.I.
Reviews from www.nywines.com
Russian Oak Chardonnay 2007, North Fork, price $20, score 94
Comtesse Therese’s Russian Oak Chardonnay 2007 is a medium gold in the glass. Demonstrates a classic reserve style bouquet of aromas of vanilla, toast, butterscotch, lemon crèmes, band aids, and backed apples; rich, fun, and ripe. Palate displays a good fruit balance of baked apples, mango, and cantaloupe with emerging winter spices and some nutty themes of walnut and almonds. Shows excellent complexity. This medium bodied Chardonnay has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel; ripe and rich with a velvety glycerin texture. The wine demonstrates enough acid to keep from getting fat. It show a good balance between cellar flavors and fruit and avoids getting heavy or overstated. Comtesse Therese continues to experiment with unusual Eastern European oak with some definitive success. The Chardonnay takes on very different characters based on her oak choices. Interesting finish is moderate with the walnut and almond themes presenting over fruit and a touch of white pepper. Good as an aperitif for those who don’t mind some oak on their wine. Pair with pastas with cream and cheese sauces or cheese plate with fresh fruit. Very well priced.
Russian Oak Chardonnay 2006, North Fork, Price $18, Score: 95
Medium golden with a hint of green hue in the glass. Bouquet is rich with lemon, vanilla, butterscotch, shows tropical notes of nutmeg, eucalyptus, and mango. Baked apples, cantaloupe, and ripe pears open developing lemon chiffon, Creme Brulee and cinnamon on the mid pallet. Texture is creamy but not overly so. Flavors are fruit forward, round, full, and opulent. Pepper and spice jump up on the finish with an undertone of light acid to keep the wine open and provide counterpoint to fruit themes. Fascinating and beautifully crafted wine. Unusual oak aging provides interest and complexity over a classical Burgundy style Chardonnay. Fruit is balanced nicely by the work in the cellar. Good as an aperitif or pair with sharp cheeses, mollusks, or grilled fish. Excellent value.
Hungarian Oak Merlot 2004, North Fork, Price $20, score: 90
Wonderful nose, cherries, blackberries, sassafras, and peppers. Cherries and stone fruit forward balanced with pepper and spices from the oak. The Hungarian oak imparts a different experience from French or American varieties. Medium tart finish contrasts with the fruit. A well structured wine. It is apparent that a lot of thought went into the building of this wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, North Fork, Price $25, Score: 92
The Comtesse demonstrates her talents as the master of oak on the North Fork with the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. The wine shows dark garnet colors thinning slightly to the rim. Big aromas of thistle, currants, vanilla, and spice on the nose. Peppery and earthy flavors enlivened with fruit notes forward. Leather, tar, spice and a hint of mint on the palate with layers of smoke and toast underneath. Grippy tannins and acids on this full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon provide interest. Wine grumbles and make you pay attention. Finish is solid and assertive. Too big to be good as an aperitif. Pair with grilled or broiled aged red meats.
Hungarian Oak 2005, North Fork, Price $18, Score: 86
Comtesse Therese 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot shows a medium garnet and brick to the rim. Bouquet is strikingly rich showing ripe black currants and plums and some violet notes. Displays an opulent jammy character. Aromas of vanilla, band-aids, butterscotch, and a hint of cigar box adds character and demonstrates the cellar focus of the wine. Palate opens with a marked cellar and earth focus of minerals, cracked black pepper, with dried oregano and basil herbal tones. Smooth texture of lanolin soften strident tannins and acid punch. Not quite as well assembled as the 2004 but none the less the does 2005 shows potential. The wine is still coming together and should take a few more years to integrate the tannins and develop more complexity as nascent but present secondary flavors emerge. Finish shows cracked pepper and minerals with black olives and herbal notes, good length. Pair with grilled aged well marbled steak. Good priced for an interesting and well crafted wine.
Traditional Merlot 2004, North Fork . Price $18. Score: 81
Medium garnet and ruby thinning on the rim. Vanilla, cassis, blackberries and a hint of smoke on the nose. Blackberries and Bing cherries with vanilla overtones. Develops characteristic pepper with pimento and thistle; interesting earth tones with rising minerals. Finish gets a bit thin, tannins are light and offer a little grip. Probably best as an aperitif but could pair with Sicilian pasta dishes or medium to heavy cheeses. Drink now.
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