Old Vine Cafe is one of my favorite places. You can’t possibly be disappointed eating there, because the food is so exceptionally delicious. Go ahead- order anything on the menu. I bet you love it. Beef tongue? Only the best piece of melt-in-your-mouth, braised, glazed, most toothsome beef ever. Seafood salad? Octopus so tender you hardly have to chew. It’s all good at Old Vine Cafe.
We started by perusing the wine list- a tribute to years of researching the best examples of varietals across the globe. When we saw Yves Leccia’s Patrimonio Rouge from Corsica. His wines are considered to be some of the best in Corsica and his terroir, “E Croce,” is perfectly positioned on chalk soil layered above a thick bedrock of pure schist, facing the gulf of St. Florent. Yves is a firm believer in the idea that if you want something done right you need to do it yourself, and thus he works both the vineyards, and the ceallr, all by himself. As importer Kermit Lynch has said, “He keeps his yields low, knows when to harvest, and knows how to let E Croce express itself in the wines. Not a single bottle comes out of the domaine that isn’t meticulously looked after from start to finish.”
The wine was deep brick red, a color synonymous with the wine’s main grape, Nielluccio. There was a bit of old world funk on the nose initially, which dissipated after a few minutes in the glass, leaving only a pure, earthy memory of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This wine is undeniably Mediterranean.
We had the Buratta Caprese, which was accompanied by grape tomatoes and flash fried arugula. The arugula takes on a nutty, sweet characted when treated this way, which allowed the wine to pair unexpectedly well with this dish. Additionally on one of Chef Mark McDonald’s tasting menus he also pairs this dish with a lovely little Gragnano from Grotta del Sole. No wonder I love this man’s food- he’s an Italian wine geek at heart!
Chef also prepared one of his newest creations for us, a portion of pan-seared polenta,
topped with a sunny-side-up egg, and then smothered in a truffled-cheese fonduta and topped with crispy potatoes. There are no words to describe the delicate perfection of Chef McDonald’s polenta. He’ll tell you it’s simple- a basic polenta recipe. But in the end it is the fluffiest, creamiest, most perfect dream of polenta. You simply have to taste it to understand. There’s a lot of love in this kitchen.
We ended with a “Trio of Blue Cheese”, paired with a little glass of Sauternes. There was a gorgeous, melty piece of blue cheese, drizzled with honey and accompanied by dried fruit- the perfect, most classic combination for this delicate sweet wine.
Then a scoop of blue cheese ice cream- a lovely, creamy concoction that manages to be both delicate and assertive at the same time. There is no blue cheese funk- only a suggestion of earthy saltiness and a fun, cheesy texture under the cold ice cream.
And last, a sliver of the Chef’s Mother’s Cheesecake Recipe, infused with blue cheese. Sprinkled with pistachios and framed a by a luscious graham crust, this was my favorite. Who doesn’t love a slice of mom’s cheesecake?