Turning Wine Into Hope: Wine on Wheels

Turning Wine Into Hope

 


Each spring since 2012, New York City’s finest hospitality professionals gather for what is now known as one of the most anticipated wine events of the year. Wine on Wheels is the main fundraising initiative of Wheeling Forward, a substantial contributor in assisting individuals with spinal cord disability obtain a proper support system, resources, and services needed to continue active and fruitful lives. Wheeling Forward has earned a reputation of understanding first hand how each disability impacts every person’s life uniquely.

Founders Alex Elegudin and Yannick Benjamin met after sustaining spinal cord injuries in the same month. At the time, Alex was 19 and Yannick, 25. Both young and determined to persevere, Alex returned to school and became an attorney. Yannick went to college while becoming an esteemed sommelier. After years of volunteering in the disability community, Alex and Yannick decided to use their experience, talent and individual networks to tackle challenging, underserved areas of need. In 2011, Wheeling Forward was manifested with the assistance of several committed board members.

For the last 8 years, Wheeling Forward has provided many with the motivation and resources to resume active lives!

This is why Wine on Wheels is so important!

In February of 2012, Yannick and Alex hosted the first ever Wine on Wheels Grand Tasting. Yannick, always motivated to serve others invoked his peers from the restaurant community to join the cause! Each year since, more and more budding Sommeliers, Chefs and wine enthusiasts have gathered at the Wine on Wheels Grand Tasting to display hospitality in true definition: the virtue of caring for others.

The grand tasting, is a day when wine aficionados and wine novices alike can gather together to learn and enjoy – for the benefit and support of those in need.

From the support of the restaurant industry’s best, Wheeling Forward is now recognized as hospitality driven, innovative and consists of a constantly growing and effective group of self giving advocates dedicated to enrich the lives of the disabled community.

There are many way to become apart of the Wine on Wheels tradition. You can assist in changing the lives of many! Visit Wine on Wheels to learn how!

Villanelle 

There are a handful of restaurants in New York City that I refer to as hidden gems. These hidden gems you all learn about through various ways. What you are unaware of are the city’s precious gems. Some restaurants I enjoy so much, I tend to keep them as little secrets for myself to enjoy. Such is the case with Villanelle

Yes, the name sounds exotic, but this restaurant is much more than a clever name. Chef Nick Licata creates his own Villanelle at the namesake Greenwich Village restaurant and truly represents the meaning of word. Like the 19 lined poem depicting pastoral scenes of Italy, Chef Licata has a 19 item menu that highlights the freshest ingredients from the neighboring Union Square Farmers Market. 
My first visit to Villanelle was during the opening week in early March. Of course I was warmly welcomed by eager staff with gleaming smiles. I made myself comfortable at the bar, and the bartenders made sure I was comfortable too. Hospitable and absolutely delicious, my immediate impression was ‘I must return’! 

A few weeks later, I did return and sat at a table. Once again warmly welcomed. The difference this visit, though, was my sense of familiarity. I couldn’t help having repeat dishes from my first visit like Chef Licata’s crispy octopus. Known as his signature dish, the octopus is steamed for two hours before gently fried; served with a mouth watering pomme purée and coveted spring favorite, nettles. The house made cavatelli with black pepper is served with fresh market asparagus and a hen egg. Similar to a carbonara, the cavatelli has a subtilty that contributes to its appeal. The silky slow poached Arctic Char with sorrel, dill oil and plenty of roe is a dish I hope will be on the menu for some time. 

On my most recent visit, I once again opted for the bar. Just missing their newly launched oyster happy hour which is from 5:30pm to 7pm, I instead enjoyed the Cured Thai Snapper. This tartare style dish is accompanied by radishes from the farmers market, though that may change based on availability. The snapper is cured in a curry pulp, which is made from banana, kaffir lime leaves, kombu, thai chilies, and offers a refreshing kick! 

Desserts at Villanelle are some of the most delicious I’ve had. Chef Licata and Chef de Partie Christian Grindrod have collaboratively exposed a broad range of flavors from ingredients found at the farmers market. They bake parsnip root then butter-braise it, and serve it with white chocolate. It’s skin, thinly shaved, turns into a delicious crisp that encases the vegetable. It makes for a creamy, buttery dessert that is rich, uniquely flavored and utterly satisfying. A watermelon sorbet is served under a baked meringue crisp with fresh shelled peas which is served with a soft meringue, mint oil and fresh mint. Think pavlova, but with components more interesting than fruit. 

One of my new favorites, Villanelle is a restaurant I look forward to visiting again and again! 
Villanelle is located at 15 E. 12th Street between University Place and 5th Avenue, 212-989-2474, http://www.villanellenyc.com @villanellenyc. The restaurants serves dinner Monday – Thursday 5:30pm – 10:30pm; Friday & Saturday 5:30pm – 11:30pm; Lunch Monday – Friday 12:00pm – 2:30pm Closed Sunday. Happy Hour Monday – Friday 5:30pm – 7pm offers six East Coast oysters and a glass of wine, beer, sherry or cider for $15. 
Original publish date, May, 2017 

French Style Pavóchon!

Holiday Traditions are such a joyful pleasure. For those lucky to have traditions centered around a dinner table; eat, drink and be merry becomes an annual lifestyle!

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, was the busiest day of the year in the gastronomic world. It also traditionally signifies the beginning of the Christmas season.  Ding, Dong Merrily on High!

My brother Jason is quite the at home Chef. With my sister in law Beth at his side to deck their dinner table – (not to mention their home), the duo has certainly Mastered the Art of Living. The Crye family Black Friday Pavóchon is a tradition worth noting. My brother has  adepted his Pavóchon based off a Stephane Reynard recipe: Dinde Farcie de Bonnes Choses.

11 pound, deboned Turkey

3.5 ounces of bacon

3.5 ounces of pork belly

14 ounces pork loin

5 ounces chestnuts

6 cloves of garlic

3 shallots

1 cup heavy cream

half cup pistachios

2.5 Tablespoons Armagnac

half cup of white port

Olive Oil for sautéing, salt and pepper to taste

Peel, dice  the shallots and garlic, and sauté in olive oil.

Chop all the meat. Crush the nuts. Combine with cream, Armagnac, Port, garlic and shallots.

Spoon the stuffing into the Turkey cavity. Close it up with string. Oil the turkey and season.

Roast in a 235 degree oven for 3-4 hours, basting regularly.

#athomesoigné

img_3395