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The First Rule of Neverending Pasta Bowl Is: You Do Not Talk About Neverending Pasta Bowl

“Why?” I was asked on Facebook where all great questions originate. Well, because the Neverending Pasta Bowl has become a tradition, one I must heed despite little interest in flour and water formed into shapes, reconstituted (in unsalted water, of course) and coated in thick tomato sauces during my day-to-day life.

Pizzas may continue being overstuffed, or rather, turned into full-course meals, and burgers may blacken and pinken, yet some things stay staunchly the same. With the fate of autumn novelty, the McRib, up in the air this year, at least you can count on Olive Garden offering all-you-can-eat pasta for a price that still starts a penny shy of $10 some time toward the end of summer, usually August–this year it fell unusually late (and lasts through November 9).

olive garden nepb receipt

Each of my experiences have gotten progressively weirder. I’m not really sure what the promotion costs in reality, despite scrutinizing the receipt. Small print on the website threatens the usual higher prices may apply in NYC garbage, but the base price appears to be $9.99 like anywhere else. As in previous jaunts, if you live in NYC the only clue that this deal exists may be if you catch a commercial on TV. There are no menu inserts or advertisements, no lent cheat sheet as in years past, just a quick verbal description with no prices given.

I suppose one could follow Olive Garden’s millennial-baiting Twitter account for NEPB alerts. Weird Corporate Twitter has become the social media standard. The newish website is designed in that tiled Pinterest style with links to things young people care about like “culinary innovation” and “nutrition,” the redesigned logo curling like reassuring text on the packaging of an eco-friendly feminine hygiene product.

The thing is, the restaurant had no wifi, which won’t do for its intended demographic. I couldn’t even get a signal on my own, and I desperately wanted to Instagram the shit out of my progressing bowls (and ultimately typed bowel later while hastily trying to upload a picture before Gone Girl started because my biggest fear is becoming a during-movie texter, followed by an on-plane barefooter) and ping the brand for attention, but obviously no hashtags were displayed on signage because this NEPB is a stealth campaign of the highest order.

And the plan worked. Not a single diner in the eerie side room that was initially uninhabited, neither the young boy with a father who only ate a bowl of soup, the obvious tourist family of four, the solo lady who gave me faith, nor the girls’ night out crew, was partaking in the deal, and not out of any sense of dignity, I like to believe.

Olive Garden finally convinced me to spring for an extra topping because for the first time in history it wasn’t all sausage or meatballs, but also shrimp fritta a.k.a. breaded, fried shrimp ($4.99 surcharge). Every year two new sauces are introduced, and for 2014 that would be Spicy Three Meat (anyone’s guess which three) and Roasted Mushroom Alfredo, which I only know because of the very informative website. These too, come at a price in select locations. Maybe a dollar in Chelsea? Maybe someone would tell you if you asked? I’m not convinced anyone would know.

olive garden nevereding pasta bowl roasted mushroom alfredo

Cream sauce, penne and fried seafood? Yes, one bowl is plenty.

olive garden nevereding pasta bowl spicy three meat sauce

Bowl two is the size bowl one should probably be but would break the convivial spirit of NEPB. Scale is hard to parse–this meat sundae is roughly the serving of one generous scoop of ice cream.

olive garden black tie mousse cake

Bowl three was forgone in favor of shared chocolate cake. Black Tie Mousse Cake, to be precise, which frankly doesn’t scream young and fresh at all and sounds like something from The Silver Palate Cookbook. If I were an 18-to-34-year-old I would’ve obviously ordered the “dolcini” because small desserts for sharing and health is where it’s at now.

Goodie Obsession: All the Empanadas at La Nueva Bakery (and More)

la nueva empanadas duo

Empanadas appear to be having a moment and for no discernible reason. First Gothamist, then Serious Eats…ok, that’s just two. Maybe it’s my own recent empanada bender that’s clouding my logic. I just ate two less than an hour ago. I suppose empanadas are pretty evergreen. (Even I did a round-up another lifetime ago.)

This weekend, with the help of an out-of-towner and stranger-now-acquaintance, I tried every empanada at La Nueva Bakery, plus two giant guava and cheese pastries, the triangular slices not the standalones. Honestly, I couldn’t even rattle off all 12 iterations, some finger-crimped and doughy, others golden and sealed with the tines of a fork, a few able to stand up on their own while most need to lie down. We didn’t dissect them; we just ate them.

la nueva emapanadas warming

There was definitely beef, pork, chicken, tuna, spinach, ham and cheese, and vegetable. Not all were Argentine/Uruguayan; the cafe also has a Colombian influence, not surprising considering the immediate neighborhood. The red salsa, though only mildly spicy and spiked with thick garlic slices, doesn’t strike me as very Argentine. It’s not a culture traditionally in love with hot food. You won’t even find black pepper on the table in Buenos Aires.

mama's empanadas sliced

A pit stop at Mama’s Empanadas turned up more overtly Colombian pastries with some American flourishes. I mean, this is the mini-chain known for its Elvis (peanut butter and banana) empanada. This bunch is more motley with a mac and cheese, Hawaiian (I will never not order ham, cheese and pineapple if given the opportunity) another cheese and guava where all the cheese was on one end like a bad burrito, a yellowy corn flour empanada filled with shredded beef, and a beef and pork papa rellena.

Originally, I planned to add Mexican into the mix but imported chain Pastes Kikos was still closed at 1pm due to an issue with the oven. You know, because seven doughy items per person just isn’t enough.

The best? It’s all subjective. Either you prefer baked or fried, green or red sauce, traditional or otherwise. I’m a fan of the standard baked Argentine beef empanada, but must concede that the mac and cheese was pretty good despite never eating mac and cheese (I’ll always be a sucker for anything Hawaiian, though). La Nueva’s Colombian-style fried cornmeal version stuffed with pernil was a standout. The surprise was the moist, chunky tuna, which I’ve always avoided. It wasn’t dried out even after reheating.

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Queens For a Week

I have now been a official Jackson Heights resident for exactly one week. It’s good getting back to my chowhoundy roots. Of course, it’s hardly uncharted territory; this neighborhood and environs have been well tread by Joe DiStefano, Dave Cook, Jeff Orlick and Robert Sietsema, among others. And yes, there are even some women on the scene–just tonight there was an event featuring a discussion between two Queens cookbook authors, Andrea Lynn and Meg Cotner.

I’ll do what I can. Right now that means eating everywhere within walking distance. I’m afraid I’m turning into a bachelor (also that I’m gaining a pound a day in baked goods and ghee.) The newness will wear off soon enough, real fall weather will kick in, and I’ll eventually settle back into home cooking. Maybe?

saw shack takeout

Saw Shack It’s Chinese takeout with rough wood beams instead of primary colored Formica that would feel more at home on Smith Street or Vanderbilt Avenue. On the counter, there’s water chilling in a giant spigoted Mason jar with cucumbers and limon (sometimes cantaloupe) but you can still get a can of soda with your sesame chicken combo meal in a Styrofoam container. Minus the mock meats, there’s nothing radically different about this menu; it’s not upscale or elevated. The pork in the double cooked pork tastes like pork, the sauce isn’t sweet or greasy–in fact, it’s spicy as was asked for–and includes nice thin slices of that smoked tofu that looks like gouda. Pink and green flecks imply there is actually scallion and crab (or at least krab) in the rangoon. You’ll get duck sauce, and also an earthy chile oil that I want to believe is homemade. It’s mostly shredded cabbage in the spring roll, though a meaty strip of shiitake also lurks. This is not a destination restaurant, just a boon for locals.

el gran uruguaya duo

La Gran Uruguaya I accidentally wandered here first, thinking it was La Nueva, the more storied bakery. Both are equally busy and at least on the surface have similar racks of baked goods that would take me months to get through if I tried one item a day. The beef empanadas were fresh from the oven (otherwise, you can have them warmed), super flaky and more rich than you’d expect from a baked version. For me, anything stuffed with dulce de leche is dangerous because I like my sweets sickly sweet, and that sums up most of what’s on offer (except the naked, dry-looking twisted things closest to the register)

la nueva trio

La Nueva Bakery So far, I’ve only sampled a ham and cheese empanada that seemed all shredded ham, and a classic beef empanada that was heavier on the olives and lighter on filling than La Gran Uruguaya’s. The crust was also more bready than flaky, which may be more correct. I will have to do more taste testing.

rajbhog sweets mithai

Rajbhog Sweets I said I like my sweets sweet, right? Half a pound of mithai equals more or less six pieces (pistachio burfi, those round syrupy things called cutlets and a mystery silver-leaved white oblong stuffed with what I think is sweetened cheese), enough for a family or enough for me to finish in less than 12 hours. While senselessly watching Requiem For a Dream, I saw myself in Ellen Burstyn’s character caressing her box of chocolates. And we know how she ends up. The only remedy will be if I stay in my part of the neighborhood and avoid the Indian section.

el chivito d'oro parrillada

El Chivito d’Oro I was going to marvel at how much food you get for $38 until I realized that on my last visit the parrillada for two (teaming with short ribs, sweetbreads, sausage, morcilla, skirt steak and veal) plus two sides cost $10 less. Ok, that was eight years ago, so it’s still a marvel. The meat will probably be well-done. No one will likely ask if you wanted it otherwise. If you’re not fussy, a $19 bottle of Malbec isn’t a bad addition either. Fries and salad, my extras, share billing with less South American rice and beans and tostones. A lot of people order the potato salad. A very long Happy Birthday song might be played. On weekend nights, this and its nearby competitors, all have lines out the door. If you haven’t set up your kitchen yet, you will have leftover meat to eat for a few days and that’s a good thing.

pollos a la brasa mario chicken

Pollos a la Brasa Mario Somehow there are three of this mini-chain in a ten-block radius. There’s certainly more than rotisserie chicken, but I’ve never ventured deep into the Colombian canon (that will have to change soon). The soupy beans (not pictured) are seriously porky and kind of amazing.

kitchen 79 pork knuckle

Kitchen 79 I will say more later (I’ve been twice already) but for now this strangely glossy Thai restaurant is an area standout. You can have your pork knuckle, fish maw and wild boar or bring friends who’ll both order curries with tofu and eat them like entrees and it will be ok (love you guys). Despite the bar with taps advertising Yuengling and Sapporo, it’s still BYOB.

 

Color Me Bad: Beer and Chips

Photo: Firebox

Photo: Firebox

This sky blue Japanese beer is so pretty I almost can’t stand it. And somehow the hue is naturally derived from seaweed and unspecified flowers? I may just break down and order a can. It’s probably worth $8 to experience the magic of iceberg water from the Sea of Okhotsk and Chinese yams in the only other alcoholic beverage the color of an Aviation.

It is Abashiri’s blue beer that has been making the rounds online this week, but the company has also brewed a whole range of rainbow colors.

Photo: Reddit

Photo: Reddit

I bet these would go great with those green Lay’s barbecue chips. As an aside, of all the Lay’s chips with green packaging, don’t you think India’s Mint Mischief is probably the best?

Williamsburg’s Most Eaten a.k.a. Goodbye To All That (Food)

In some ways I marvel at the kinds of people who remain friends with their exes. Either they’re highly evolved and easygoing or in denial and out of touch with their emotions. I take the opposite stance on most things including former neighborhoods where neat, tidy breaks also feel preferable. Even if it’s not on purpose, once I move, I’m gone.

I loathed Carroll Gardens and environs, a.k.a. food writer central, irrationally for probably seven of the eight years I spent there. I have not returned even once in the past two years despite curiosity about Dover, Take Root and the revamped Long Island Bar. Hometown BBQ doesn’t count, right?

Sunset Park has also failed to draw me back, I did dabble a bit in Clinton Hill, I’ll admit, and it was only this year, 14 years after I left, that I began softening on Ridgewood. Williamsburg? We’ll have to see.

My past year and a half in Williamsburg was just a blip, always meant to be temporary, and for all its ills I don’t hate it (as long as I stay on my side–the right side–of Metropolitan Ave.). I’m not saying I will miss it when I move this week, but it’s doubtful I’ll turn my back on it altogether (especially considering that a majority of my friends still live in North Brooklyn–at least until I can convince them to migrate to Queens). It’s a pretty good eating neighborhood. Here are some of my favorites.

qi thai grill spicy beef tendon salad

If someone ever hacked into my Seamless account, they would incorrectly assume I was a Qi Thai Grill fanatic since the duck salad is my most common Times Square office lunch order and the Brooklyn branch is occasionally responsible for my dinner. I never eat in; the glitz is weird. The food, if chosen carefully, is real, though: tendon salads, crazy spicy pork stir-fries, khao soi, and even those non-traditional Ovaltine ribs.

pasar malam nasi lemak

Pasar Malam also filled a void. I never thought I’d live to see the day when I could get laksa and rojak brought to my door. Good Malaysian food in this neighborhood makes no sense at all, but why question it?

Zizi limona chicken liver

I don’t go to Zizi Limona as often as I should even though I often have the urge for the pita stuffed full of kofta, charred vegetables and equally charcoal-ly black babaganoush. The food is creative, kind of Israeli, and Macedonian house wines are only $5 a glass. When someone asks for a restaurant recommendation in the neighborhood, this is often my suggestion but people see hummus on the menu and blow it off as run of the mill Middle Eastern. Don’t do that.

maison premiere oysters

Cheap oysters are a dime (or should I say a dollar?) a dozen in these parts–St. Mazie, Miller’s Tavern, Extra Fancy and Desnuda are all within 3 blocks of my apt. It’s Maison Premiere that wins, though, despite the rigmarole. The selection (roughly 18 varieties) and cocktails are incomparable.

saltie balmy

Because I tend to avoid overt bread (yet absorb carbs in a zillion other forms) I rarely eat sandwiches. You just can’t follow that thoughtless rule for life as long as Saltie exists, though. Whether the hearty, meatless Scuttlebutt or pate-rich Balmy, these are the focaccia-bound sandwiches to make allowances for even if it makes you want to take a nap when you still have work to get done.

peter luger cheeseburger

For burgers, Peter Luger is the master. Everyone must go at least once for lunch.

blue collar burger

Blue Collar, on the other hand, is a fine In-n-Out approximation but the mildly hostile counter service (even after using Seamless pickup to minimize interaction) is always off-putting. No matter how I articulate that I ordered online, I’m looked at like I’m simple-minded and met with an exasperated “What?” All I wanted was a double cheeseburger one evening, and ended up with someone else’s order of a single, fries, plus two hot dogs, which threw me into a rage. I hate hot dogs, which I realize makes me an un-American monster and was reinforced by social media reactions. I haven’t been back since.

pies n thighs fried chicken

Yes, the fried chicken at Pies ‘n’ Thighs is really that good. The pies aren’t so shabby either.

Then again, the fried chicken at The Commodore is pretty amazing too. Same pedigree. The nachos are also textbook awesome nachos. It fills me with deep shame to say that I’ve never had the cheeseburger.

motorino lunch special

I was on a Forcella bender, but then Motorino bounced back–and with a $12 pizza and a salad lunch special. Both have merits. Hmm, did everyone know there was a Motorino in the Philippines? Hong Kong, sure, but this is news to me. The menu looks exactly the same, with the addition of San Miguel beer.

best pizza

For slices, Best Pizza is kind of, yes, the best. The lemon zesty, sesame seeded white pizza covered in caramelized onions rules. This Seamless review always makes me laugh.

mable's ribs

BBQ-wise, BrisketTown probably gets the most attention, and rightly so. Mable’s (pictured) doesn’t elicit as much chatter, but it’s also respectable, refreshingly unpretentious and never painfully crowded.

First ever rajas hash

First ever rajas hash

Possibly the last ever rajas hash.

Possibly the last ever rajas hash. (First iPhone 6 food photo, however.)

Sometimes–often, in fact–it’s not about the food. The chilly January afternoon I was solo apartment-hunting for the first time in 13 years, I ended up on the next block at Taco Chulo having a mid-week brunch of rajas thick with melted cheese and chorizo grease. Neither Tex-Mex exactly nor Mexican, this heftiness is the definition of comfort food. And then at the bequest of a non-food-lover friend, I’ve ended up at Taco Chulo nearly every weekend since for sometimes the rajas hash, sometimes the queso benedict, occasionally the smothered burrito and at least one $6 double mimosa. Sometimes the playlist is horrible dad music, sometimes the Pastels and Exploding Hearts make me believe my dead iPod has been revived. There are no lines, it’s never crowded and will no doubt eventually fade away and be quietly mourned as a member of Old Williamsburg when it’s staunchly second wave.

late night san loco

San Loco is truly bottom of the barrel, but if you’re drunk and lazy enough to consider delivery at 2:45am, they come through–and quickly. It’s good to know they are there with nachos and quesadillas in desperate times.

elm

Notable, but not most eaten: Xixa, Onomea, The Elm, Bamonte’s, St. Anselm (I had a fantasy that I’d regularly dine at the bar but never got over my solo dining phobia). I feel like Diner belongs here too, but if I were being honest I’d have to admit that I haven’t been once during this stint. I’d go in a heartbeat, though, if anyone was game.

The ones that got away: Meadowsweet, Gwynett St turned Lachlan, non-brunch Hudson and Delaware, The Commodore’s burger, Meat Hook Sandwich, Reynard, Shalom Japan, Traif. I never once ate at Smorgasburg and regret it not a whit.

R.I.P. Dumont and White Castle.

Update: I completely forgot about newly Michelin-starred Luksus. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

The Week in International Intrigue: Bakeries, Breadsticks, Boerewors

The occasional Johnny Rockets popping up in Central America or Auntie Anne’s creeping into Eastern Europe isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I realize. Recently, though, there’s been a bonanza of international intrigue that can’t go un-aggregated.

Japan is about more than just novelty burgers. Come on, Japanese also appreciate novelty pastries. Dominique Ansel will be opening a bakery in Tokyo next year and it’s hard to imagine Cronuts not coming along for the ride.

The West Coast will also be representing, in the form of a Tokyo outpost for Bar Tartine next spring. The novelty factor is still unknown, but the baked goods will incorporate local ingredients.

Despite Dubai’s fondness for all of America’s biggest brands, the lack of Olive Garden has always seemed like a glaring omission to me. Never mind all of the controversy at home–unsalted pasta water, wasted breadsticks that taste like hot dog buns, limp asparagus–and the countless resulting think pieces. Our middle class may be dead. The Emirates don’t really need one to enjoy a Tour of Italy. I am slightly concerned that the Gulf News’ attempt at Marilyn Hagerty-ing praised the “American-style chicken fingers” and unlimited soup, but made no mention of the breadsticks.

Pizza Hut is taking a second chance on South Africa, with the rest of the African continent in Yum! Brands’ sights.  Peri-peri sauce and boerewors (a beef-heavy sausage) will be local concessions. Biltong? Who knows, though I did just discover that NYC is home to more than one artisanal biltong maker. And yes, one has Brooklyn in its name.

Denny’s Manhattan

twoshovelNearly four years ago Denny’s rebranded itself as America’s Diner. That might ring false in parts of the country teeming with chrome, Formica, and counter stools, and I thought the tagline was a little silly at first. Growing up, though, the Denny’s across the street from my high school’s football field, did serve a diner-like function since it was one of the few places where you could kill time with friends drinking mug after mug of coffee, chain smoking (the cigarette machine in the lobby practically encouraged it) and ordering the occasional Super Bird, if you had the kind of uptight parents who wouldn’t let you go clubbing or hang out downtown after sunset.

Nobody would argue that New York needs a chain diner. It doesn’t. But at least from the outside, the city’s first Denny’s is fairly understated, housed on the ground floor of a landmarked stone building facing City Hall. Maybe it was the scaffolding obscuring the signage, which I don’t even recall being gold and red, but I wouldn’t think twice if I walked past it.

Inside, is another matter. As everyone’s heard by now, this isn’t a suburban Denny’s, no sir. The first thing you notice when walking up the ramp and through the door is the prominent bar featuring plenty of exposed brick and pressed copper ceilings with requisite Edison bulbs sprouting from them. The only thing missing was a chalkboard with an avocado toast special hand-written in a jaunty script. (Even KFC knows what’s up with the scrawls on the wall.) On a Friday afternoon, the bar seats were occupied by middle-aged European tourists drinking margaritas and beer. A young well-dressed man, possibly a Pace student, sat alone with a laptop.

denny's paloma

Keeping with the indie ethos, the cocktail menu is faux letter-pressed and touts a drink called The Fixed Gear. A $10 Manhattan, here the Lower Manhattan (meaning the addition of Cafe Lolita coffee liqueur), is a pretty good deal even if you’re brought a margarita first. (Service is wildly friendly, though still a little shaky in execution. If you want to rat them out–I did not–more than one manager will likely check in on you.) Palomas are better suited for day drinking anyway, if not a little gross with eggs.

The food menu is pure Denny’s, laminated with specials also encased in syrup-resistant plastic tucked inside. My old standby turkey club now has a cosmopolitan spin-off The Tuscan Super Bird that includes spinach and sun-dried tomato mayonnaise just like they do in Florence. They’ve also rebooted the Moons Over My Hammy and made it Baja (yes, that would be avocado).

denny's belgian slam

In comparison, my Belgian Waffle Slam, two eggs, said waffle and four pieces of bacon (even two breakfast sausage links is two too many for me) felt demure. There’s no arguing that this is diner fare and as good a rendition as any. You can also have Tabasco and Cholula.

The lower Manhattan Denny’s won’t be an aberration for long (it’s also not the chain’s first attempt at being on trend–let’s not forget Baconalia) as it’s just the beginning of a number of planned locations. Downtown Brooklyn and Harlem branches will supposedly be themed to fit the neighborhoods, whatever that means exactly, yet it will be areas that consider Denny’s gentrifying not cheapening receiving the chain first: East New York is already listed on the website and the building that will house a Jackson Heights branch is under construction. The odds of Dom Perignon popping alongside pancakes are likely slim to none.

Denny’s * 150 Nassau St. New York, NY

Localized: McDonald’s Italia McChicken

Like 9/11, the possibly goth (heshers get the black Indonesian chicken) Japanese Burger King “Kuro Burger” is something nearly everyone feels the need to weigh in on. I’ll say nothing on either subject except that it’s very sad that there’s a world out there where black cheese is considered palatable for the masses while Wendy’s slapping a slice of smoked gouda on brioche is intended to be upscale. (The last time I thought smoked gouda was classy was back in the early ’90s when I’d get my dad to drive me to Costco for big yellow cylinders of the stuff.)

Anyway, an entire Tumblr could be devoted to cataloging fast food quirks in Asia. It would be an exhausting endeavor (I tried once and gave up, as I’m wont to do). Our European and Latin American counterparts don’t generally go so wild, instead opting for more logical localization and more demure limited time offers.

In addition to serving pasta salads, snacky wedges of wrapped parmesan, and pizzarotto, tomato sauce and mozzarella-stuffed turnovers that we’d call calzones, McDonald’s Italia thinks McChicken is the new black, so there.

Italian blogger Homo de Panza only gives the curry version a 6 out of 10, but gets points from me for using palate correctly (of course, palate and palette are not homophones in Italian) or as Google Translate said, “The proof of the palate, however, has upset the cards.”

Wild News

Some very important Middlesex, New Jersey chain restaurant intel has come to light . The combo Bonefish Grill/Cheeseburger in Paradise on Route 1 that has been Cheeseburger in Paradise-less since being bought by Luby’s in December 2012 finally has a new tenant. Only eight CIP branches survive in the U.S., some transformed into Fuddrucker’s.

Not so, in Woodbridge* where a Buffalo Wild Wings opened today at 11am. The first 100 people in line, starting at 10pm last night, received free wings for a year. And yes, even in the suburbs, people–or at least teenaged boys–will line up for food.

*It’s also possible to get pedantic about non-NYC neighborhood names–or in this case, townships. The Bonefish Grill housed in the same structure considers itself to be in Iselin, and as an outside observer I always assumed it was Route 1 that split Iselin from Woodbridge. Claiming to be in Woodbridge is yet another bold move by Buffalo Wild Wings.

Surprise, Surprise

Not so long ago, The New York Times ran an article with the subhead “10 of New York City’s Most Surprising Wine Lists.” I mean, I guess. Are we surprised by Má Pêche or Roberta’s?

I’m that person who orders a bottle of wine at Bonefish Grill, so obviously I prefer The Wall Street Journal’s “The Pleasant Surprise of Chain-Restaurant Wines,” which ran the day after. So much wine surprise for one week. Included was an odd mix of restaurants, heavy on steakhouses, with P.F. Chang’s thrown in. It really could’ve used a little Seasons 52.

The overall takeaway wasn’t so positive, despite the promising title. Fleming’s list was overpriced, Morton’s was boring and overpriced, Legal Sea Foods poured the wrong year, and the server at the White Plains P.F. Chang’s had never opened a bottle of wine before, including the 2010 Renato Ratti Ochetti Nebbiolo D’Alba that was supposed to be a 2011.

This isn’t the first time a legit, i.e. non-bloggy, publication tackled this topic. In 2011 Food & Wine did a round-up with many of the same characters–and the surprise addition of Olive Garden.

And now I’m having the strangest urge for Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling.