Category Archives: Andrew Chalk

Three Wine Finds

IMG_20140819_175926 by Andrew Chalk

1999 Artéis Champagne Brut ($50)

It is not often that one sees a Champagne this old and not for this price. But this newly introduced brand is the real thing. It introduces a new name into the Champagne market, Artéis and Co. which began distributing in the U.S. last fall. They now have four wines, this being the oldest.

This wine has a moderate yeastiness, long-lived bubbles and a vibrant acidity making it suitable for a wide range of food. The hardest thing may be getting it due to its small production. Currently Crave readers on one of their regular trips to a list that includes Colette in Paris, The Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood and Le Baron in New York as well as gastronomic destinations including Daniel in New York, Fig, FarmShop and Nikita in Los Angeles as well as Saison and La Folie in San Francisco.

Whoever is taking over from the inimitable Michael Flynn at the Mansion should give the U.S. importer a call and get some of this.   Continue reading

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Brian Zenner’s New Menu At Oak

 zennerby Andrew Chalk

Whither Oak? Consider the moves since its opening in December 2011 under execuchef Jason Maddy (culled from The Mansion) and sous chef Brian Zenner (also from The Mansion) . When the couple behind Oak, Richard and Tiffanee Ellman, decided to open the quirkily-named Belly and Trumpet in February 2013, Zenner was their man to be execuchef. However, for some reason he remained as sous at Oak until April. Then Thomas Gray took that position. At that point in time things sped up. Just a month later Maddy left Oak for unexplained health reasons. Gray improvised until July when Richard Gras was hired as the permanent replacement. Gras, whose background had mainly been at large luxury hotels, lasted a year at the relatively small Oak before moving back to Pier A in New York City. The Ellman’s immediately moved Zenner back as execuchef at Oak.

In addition, over the same period (August 2013), the Ellmans opened a modern Thai restaurant, Pakpao Thai, and suffered a split with the inaugural chef at that venture just six months later.   Continue reading

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Psst…The New Best Place For Your Big Event

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by Andrew Chalk
Which hotel will you use for your next wedding/charity fundraiser/corporate event? If you think it may not matter because of their similarity, and if you have already done the marvelous  Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field, then consider moving south….to the Dallas Zoo. I attended a 100 person meeting there recently at the Flamingo Room. That picture above is the view. There is a deck outside and the zoo is taking advantage of its biggest draw — the animals. They bring well-behaved ones out where guests can get up close. You won’t find that at the hotel you were thinking about.   Continue reading

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Join Parallel Restaurant Week Now

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by Andrew Chalk

Diners love the low price of the all-inclusive menus of restaurant week ($35 or $45) but hate the crowded dining rooms leading to slammed kitchens and fatigued serving staff. What if you could have all the pluses of restaurant week (RW) without the negatives?

One restaurant is offering pretty much that, as it opened too late to be included in the RW program. In fact, their special restaurant week menu (available through August 24th) is less than the price of  the official menu! Cucina Neighborhood Italian restaurant in Preston center (in the old Ocho/ Mi Piaci space) is offering three courses for just $25 – and that includes a glass of house wine! I attended a media event last week and can confirm it is a real bargain. The helpings were large enough that I took food home for lunch the next day. The appetizers were good. The main courses excellent. The desserts less memorable. The menu is available every evening right now. Overall, it was an excellent value and the experience comes Crave Recommended.    Continue reading

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Hendricks Search of the Perfect Botanical

View of areaby Andrew Chalk

If you have a successful and distinctive gin on the market, do you rest on your laurels? Is the recipe put to bed? Not if you are Hendrick’s, the family-owned distiller of the cucumber-rich spirit that is always the first to be recognized in blind tastings. They explore for new botanicals that stretch the limits of the definition of gin.   Continue reading

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A Stellar Italian Wine That Isn’t Made from the Grape You Might Expect

chalk by Andrew Chalk

Most of the top wines from the Tuscany region of Italy are made wholly or mainly from the Sangiovese grape. However there is another indigenous red Tuscan grape that I recommend you check out. 2011 Corte alla Flora Pugnitello is made from the Pugnitello grape, sometimes called Tuscany’s forgotten grape. Pugnitello means ‘little fist’ and refers to the grape’s tight bunches on the vines. It lost favor in the mid 20th century to Sangiovese partly because of its low yields. A research project by the University of Florence, in 1960, is believed to have pretty much saved it from oblivion.   Continue reading

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