Karen & I eat out on a regular basis, and mostly restrict ourselves to healthy food. We also cook and eat healthy at home. In fact, we have just finished day 7 of a strict diet and are both proud of the weight we have lost! Now we are heading into the next two days armed with some weight loss, but also a bit leery of how our bodies will react with richer foods and (of course) alcohol.
Our hotel (Inn on Fifth) provided a first rate happy hour as part of our accommodations, so we started our partying at the hotel. My drink of choice was a Hendrick's gin & tonic while Karen enjoyed a Newton Chardonnay. (Remember - I am a "wine thinker" more than a "wine drinker".)
Our next venture was out into the hot and humid (more like a sauna with the heat turned up to 120 degrees) streets of Naples. With no definite destination in mind for dinner, we strolled down 5th Avenue looking at menus and enjoying the air conditioning coming from the stores and restaurants if their doors were opened.
Our first stop was Bha Bha - a favorite of ours. It is a wonderful Persian restaurant and we have enjoyed coming here with friends in the past. Tonight we decided to sit at the bar for a couple of drinks while we debated about dinner. We still weren't sure what and where we wanted to eat, so we enjoyed our drinks and moved on.
Now armed with a couple of gin and tonics for me and chardonnays for Karen, we walked back up 5th Avenue to Bistro 821. Most of their competition had only two or three tables occupied and 821 was very busy. We were confident the food must be good. Wow-the place was bustling and we were turned away - all tables booked! Note to self: Reservations!
So with no dinner yet, we walked through the courtyard in front of the Sugden Theater to the famed Trulucks and found it was in the middle of its happy hour. There was no room in the bar (which is where we where we usually prefer) and with my shorts and running shoes we weren't sure we could gain admittance to the dining room. I asked the hostess if my clothes were acceptable and if they had a table. She assured me that my clothing was fine (it is Naples in August after all) and immediately took us over to a nice table.
We now order our third drink of the evening and are happy to try the menu. Our appetizer was shrimp. These shrimp put all the others we have had in Naples to shame: beautiful, large, fresh, chilled to perfection and served up on dry ice for effect.
As big and good as the shrimp were, the 2013 Trefethen Chardonnay was up to the challenge for a great pairing. Since the Trefethen website gives such a wonderful description of this wine, I have provided a link for you below. There is no reason to try to reinvent the word wheel. The only thing I would add is that they nailed the aromas and flavors and the pairing with the grilled shrimp was the best choice of the evening. It's an affordable wine that beat out the other two chardonnays we had tried tonight.
Karen ordered Trout Amondine which was excellent and again paired nicely with the Trefethen Chardonnay. My Steak Au Poivre was better than good and I ordered a nice Cabernet (Liberty School 2012) to drink while eating the steak.
Liberty School is what some wine experts would call "pedestrian". For me it had that black currant backbone I like in a cabernet: a good feel in the mouth, with a little astringency that was mopped up by the pepper sauce.
If you drink red wine with fish (yes - it really is okay to do this!) the Liberty School went really well with the trout (Karen shared) and if the red wine is a little harsh, a forkful of potatoes (especially mashed) and/or creamed spinach is a great way to subdue the flavors.
To my surprise at the end of our meal, a chocolate bread pudding, with vanilla ice cream appeared - my birthday gift from Trulucks. Luckily, we were now just across the street from our hotel so could slowly make our way back to our room.
Remember - we had just finished a 7 day strict menu that had us eating very healthy foods, but our calorie intake daily was about what my dinner had been at Trulucks! Good night! We will sleep tight tonight!
We are now on day two of our stay-cation and as I write this I am suffering. Too many carbs, and calories, a few too many drinks, a bad tummy and a fuzzy head, and now we are getting ready for Bistro 821 where we have tonight's reservation. (We learn quickly.)
Last night was just a warm up - my real birthday is today! We have rested, had a light breakfast and lunch, walked around downtown Naples like tourists, consumed no alcohol yet and have gone online to see the menu for Bistro 821 before we go out. Making healthy choices before we walk through the door. We'll let you know later how that worked for us!
People who don't know us think because I am a Master Sommelier I drink only top end wines. In fact, I get more excitement from finding a well-made wine at everyday prices. Therefore, my suggestions in this Blog will always be quite easy to find and just as easy on your pocketbook! My recommendations for you this time are:
- The 2013 Trefethen Chardonnay if you are serving seafood, chicken or pasta with white sauces. 2013 was a great vintage in Napa. Almost perfect weather.
- The 2012 Liberty School Cabernet from Paso Robles if you are serving steaks, beef roast, or lamb. 2012 was noted as a ideal growing season making 2012 an outstanding vintage. "Mother Nature smiled upon the California wine harvest this year with a bountiful crop of amazing quality," said Kathleen Heitz, President of Heitz Wine Cellars. "The diversity and depth of talented winemakers throughout the state promise some exciting and vibrant wines from the stellar 2012 vintage."