Thursday, December 31, 2020

10 New Year's Resolutions For My Readers

Happy New Year's Eve and I expect most of the celebrations tonight will be more low key than usual. Hopefully, you spend this holiday safely, and that doesn't preclude drinking some type of delicious Sparkling Wine, from Champagne to Crémant d'Alsace, Cava to Franciacorta, or something Sparkling from a U.S. producer.. It's my fervent wish that this New Year is better for all of us, in so many ways, than 2020. 2021 looks promising in some respects, and we can hope it lives up to that promise. 

This is also the time when many people will ponder the conduct of their lives and choose to make Resolutions, the things they want to do, or not do, to make their lives better in the New Year. Maybe you want to give up smoking or lose weight, maybe you want to start going to a gym regularly or save more money. Unfortunately, many people will break their resolutions after only a short time, within less than a month, so numerous people will choose not to make a resolution, figuring they won't follow it anyways.

As I've done for the last several years, I want to offer some alternative suggestions for resolutions, all connected to food and drink. Rather than deal in absolutes, or exact measurements, I merely hope that you choose to do your best to follow these suggested resolutions with the simple goal of doing better than you did last year. I don't expect anyone to follow these resolutions all the time. Please just do your best. I think you might find this easier to do than a more specific resolution which is an either/or proposition. Seek continued forward progress in these ten resolutions throughout the entire year.

1) Resolve to eat & drink healthier
This encompasses so much, such as eating less calories, consuming less sugar, and choosing items that have less unwanted chemicals. Take small steps in your approach rather than diving into a major change. The smaller steps won't seem as burdensome and it will make it easier to take another small step later on. And even small changes can bring about positive changes, especially when they accumulate over time. We all would benefit from eating and drinking healthier and it will also help our environment and economy.

2) Resolve to consume more local food & drink
Local products can help the environment, the local economy and benefit the local community. Plus, many of those local products can be healthier than mass produced, overly processed foods that might come from thousands of miles away. Eating more local seafood is such a great idea, for many reasons, from bettering your health to helping the local fishing industry. This resolution also includes drinking local wines, as every state now produces wine, and you might be surprised by the quality of some of that local wine. Not all local food and drink is delicious or good for the environment, so do some research to find out the best.

3) Resolve to eat more seafood, especially domestic
Seafood can be extremely healthy for you, especially those fish rich in Omega-3s, so it is an excellent choice for dinner. Seafood is also delicious, versatile and often easy to prepare. Yes, it can be more expensive, but it is well worth the added cost, and there are ways to get more value in your seafood purchases. Buying more domestic seafood will help our economy, rather than buying so much imported seafood. Eating more seafood can be one of the healthiest life changes you ever make. It has scientifically been proven that consuming 26 pounds of seafood annually will reduce your chances of heart disease by 36%. An easy and delicious resolution.

4) Resolve to expand your drink horizons
Don't keep drinking the same old stuff all the time. There are so many wonderful beverages out there to taste, and you might find some new favorites. Break out of your rut and endeavor to try something new on a regular basis. If you mainly drink Chardonnay, venture out and try some other white wines, such as Gruner Veltliner, Trebbiano or Albarino. Try Sherry, Sake, Japanese Whisky, Mezcal, Franciacorta, Baijiu, and other under-appreciated beverages. Taste it all, constantly trying new beverages, and continue drinking those you enjoy.

5) Resolve to expand your food horizons
In a similar vein, don't keep eating the same old stuff all the time. There are so many wonderful foods out there to taste, to see if you can find some new favorites. Break out of your rut and endeavor to try something new on a regular basis. Try some less common meats, from rabbit to wild boar, or maybe something even more unusual like insects or guinea pig. Seek out cuisines that are new to you, and look for new ingredients you can try out in your own kitchen. Taste it all, constantly trying new foods, and continue eating what you enjoy

6) Resolve to cook more at home
Cooking at home is another way to benefit the environment, and it can be more economical than eating out all the time. It also gives you a better handle on exactly what you eat, so you can make the food as healthy as you desire. It can be fun too, if you cook with someone else, breaking the potential boredom of cooking alone. Be creative in what you cook, seek out new recipes, and share recipes with others.

7) Resolve not to be THAT jerk when you dine out
When you dine out at a restaurant, get take-out, or delivery, please be polite and show respect to everyone working at or for the restaurant. Don't demand special treatment or threaten the restaurant just because you write reviews on some community website. Tip genrously, showing your servers gratitude for all their hard work. If you have a problem at a restaurant, speak to the management and see if they can resolve your issue. If you enjoy a restaurant, spread the word about your positive experience. Good restaurants can use, and deserve, all the help they can get, especially in these times. It's a very tough industry, and a very tough time, and consumers need to better understand its difficulties, and be more understanding of restaurant efforts.

8) Resolve to give more to fight hunger
Despite the wealth of the U.S., there are still far too many people in our country who can't afford to eat properly. Hunger is a major problem in our country, as well as all across the world, and one that we can do something about. Give food or money to local food banks, national organizations, or any other charity that is trying to combat this problem. Those of us without food security issues can all help out, in whatever way we are capable.

9) Resolve not to waste as much food
It is said that up to 40% of our food ends up as waste, and that is a nearly unbelievable statistic. Food waste can lead to higher food prices and cause more environmental damage. Do your part to help reduce food waste. Don't make as much food as normal when making a meal so you don't have leftovers in the first place. As your mother probably once said to you, finish everything on your plate. Use any leftovers to make additional meals.

10) Resolve not to drink & drive
As I have said time and time again, do not drive if you are impaired at all by alcohol. It is much too dangerous and you could injure or kill yourself or someone else. Even if you don't get in an accident, you could be arrested and that comes with its own high costs. It isn't worth doing it, so please just don't drink and drive. Take a Uber, taxi, or catch a ride with someone else.

Is there anything I missed?

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020: Favorite Food-Related Items

What were some of my favorite food-related items of the past year?

Let me continue the lists of my best recommendations and favorites of 2020. I've already posted my Favorite Restaurants of 2020. Now, I want to address my Favorite Food-Related Items of the past year.

This is certainly not a complete list but it is more a sampling of memorable food items I've experienced and/or posted about over the past year. This is also a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" of anything. But all of the items here have earned my strong recommendations and I hope you will enjoy them as well. For more food-related items, you can just search my blog posts for the past year.

Favorite Culinary School:
 NECAT is a local culinary school which trains people from challenging backgrounds, from ex-convicts to recovering addicts, from the homeless to the chronically unemployed. NECAT fills an important need for culinary help while helping numerous people achieve a better life. It is such a worthy school, helping to transform lives, and it really touches my heart. It helps individuals while also helping the community, and I continue, year after year, to try to raise awareness of NECAT so that its good work can continue and even expand. It is one of my favorite causes and is well worthy of your continued support. 

Favorite Food Market: The Greek International Food Market, in West Roxbury, is an amazing place, with so much excellent Greek food and ingredients, from prepackaged items to freshly made dishes. Lots of Greek cheeses and olives, spreads and pastries, wine and olive oil, and so much more. I tried numerous foods from the market and they were generally excellent and delicious. I plan to return there again soon to stock up for the winter. I highly recommend this market to anyone who loves food, to anyone who loves Greek cuisine, to anyone who is adventurous.
Favorite Food Rant: At the start of the year, I wrote, We Need More Bread Pudding! It's been a cause of mine for years, and there still aren't enough restaurants and bakeries offering delicious bread pudding. I wish there was a bakery that even specialized in Bread Pudding. It is a relatively simple dish to prepare, can be made in many different flavors, and is so tasty. So why isn't it more readily available? Why isn't it more popular? Let's hope 2021 seems Bread Pudding become a new trend. 

Writing For The Sampan: 
In April, I started a new gig, writing for the Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English Newspaper in New England. The newspaper, which was founded in 1972, is published bi-weekly by the nonprofit Asian American Civic Association and is distributed free-of-charge. It is also available online. Most of my articles deal with the history of Chinatown, especially its restaurants, though I also write restaurant reviews and related articles. Please check out my various Sampan articles here.

Blogging During A Pandemic: This year has been tough for food writers and some have simply written sporadically, whenever they had a topic idea. For myself this year, I devoted many hours to researching and writing numerous historical articles, combing through thousands of newspapers and books, especially about Boston's Chinatown and related topics. Many of the links to those numerous articles can be found in this compilation post.

I greatly expanded my previous five-part series on The First Restaurants in Boston's Chinatown, and it became an eight-part series, consisting of over 100,000 words (making it the size of a book). I'm especially proud of this series, and was surprised and enlightened by the information I found in my research. Some day, I would like to turn it into an actual book.

I also wrote a seven-part series, The First Chinese Restaurants Outside Boston, and a three-part series, The First Chinese Restaurants in Connecticut. In addition, there are histories of Dim Sum in the U.S.Origins Of The Chop Suey SandwichWhat's A Chop Suey Sundae?The Origins of American Chop SueyOrigins Of The St. Paul SandwichOrigins of Crab RangoonPA History of Peking Duck, and Chinatown, Little Syria & Its Restaurants

For non-Asian historical articles, I also wrote Origins of Manhattan Clam ChowderEarly History of Greek Restaurants in Boston, and Pastitsio: A Short History of a Greek Classic. Maybe the most poplar historical article I wrote this past year was Closed For Fifty Years: A History of the Sahara Syrian Restaurant. Who knew so many people were curious about a restaurant that has been closed for about fifty years? (And I have some new information which I will be presenting in an expanded article in 2021). 

What were some of your favorite food-related items this year?

Monday, December 28, 2020

2020: My Favorite Restaurants

What were some of my favorite restaurants of the past year?

As 2021 approaches, it's time once again to reflect upon the past year, to remember and savor pleasant memories. I'll be posting my annual series of Favorite Lists over the next couple weeks, covering food, wine, spirits and other drinks. These lists should provide a comprehensive summary of my favorites from this past year, allowing my readers to more readily locate such gems, the best of my recommendations. 

Obviously, these Favorite Lists will be different, and smaller, from prior years due to the pandemic. Dining out has been very limited this past year, and large scale wine tasting events didn't take place. There was no Seafood Expo North America in 2020. Many other food and drink events were canceled, postponed, or held virtually. However, there were still items deserving of being highlighted, and I will endeavor to showcase them. Hopefully, 2021 will allow restaurants to once again reopen fully, and food and drink events to be held once again. 

My first Favorites List of 2020 is my Favorite RestaurantsThis is certainly not a complete list but it is more a sampling of memorable restaurants and food items I've experienced and/or posted about over the past year. This is also a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" of anything. But all of the items here have earned my strong recommendation and I hope you'll enjoy them as well. For more Restaurant reviews, you can just search my blog posts for the past year.

2020 Restaurant Openings:
A number of restaurants opened this year, from January to March, just prior to the pandemic and its restrictions. And some restaurants have opened during the pandemic, after some of the restrictions were lifted. It's always difficult to open a new restaurant, and then when you have to close within a month or two of your opening, it's brutal. All restaurants have taken a serious hit this year, though these newer restaurants had the additional challenge of being new, and trying to establish a customer base when many people won't dine indoors.

I want to highlight four of these new restaurants, which were established at the beginning of 2020, and which are creating amazing food and well worthy of your support and patronage. They have impressed me during my visits, whether for take-out, outdoor dining, or even indoor dining. Please give consideration to patronizing and supporting these new restaurants.
A Tavola (Winchester)
     In January, Chef Joe Carli took over ownership of A Tavola, putting his own stamp on this Italian restaurant. My initial review, pre-pandemic, A Tavola in Winchester: Welcome to the New Owner, Chef Joe Carli gave raves, especially for his pasta dishes. I also interviewed their Wine Director in The Mind of a Sommelier: Lynsey Robbie, who curates a small and intriguing list of all-Italian wines. And in a later review, A Tavola: Duck Wings to Ligurian Seafood StewI continued to be impressed with their culinary offerings. The Duck Wings were amazing! I have also taken advantage of their Pantry offerings, buying their Bolognese sauce, homemade pastas, and more. Chef Carli and his team are doing a great job at A Tavola.

Việt Citron (Burlington)
     I dined here once before the pandemic, and when restaurants were allowed to reopen, I returned and have made this a regular lunch spot. My initial review, Việt Citron: Fresh & Tasty Phở, Bánh Mi & More, detailed some of the delicious Vietnamese food found at this small, casual spot. In follow-up reviews, I mentioned a number of their seasonal specialties: Việt Citron: A Follow-Up & Seasonal SpecialtiesViệt Citron: Bún Bò Huế, a Spicy Beef & Pork Noodle Soup, and A Food Sampling. I love their Pork Belly Bánh Mi and winter is a great time for their Chicken or Beef Phở. Fresh, delicious and reasonably priced for the quality and quantity of their dishes. In 2021, I'll continue to regularly patronize this spot. 

 Tambo 22 (Chelsea)
     As this restaurant just opened in early March, I wasn't able to dine there before all restaurants were shut down for the pandemic. However, I eventually was able to dine here twice, both times being offered a compelling dining experience with superb Peruvian cuisine and fine cocktails. Check out my reviews Tambo 22: Chef Jose Duarte Brings Peru to Chelsea and Brunch at Tambo 22: Alpaca to Cherimoya. I've long been a fan of Chef Jose Duarte and Tambo 22 showcases his Peruvian heritage, highlighting many fascinating Peruvian ingredients. Unfortunately, they are in hibernation for the winter, but once they reopen, you should rush here and enjoy a delicious Peruvian meal.

Krasi (Boston)
     Before the pandemic, I attended a media opening of Krasi and sampled much tasty cuisine, but didn't dine there until this fall. In my review, Krasi: First Impressions of this New Greek Restaurant, I enjoyed quite a fabulous Greek dinner, including some excellent Greek wines. The owners of Krasi have connections to Committee and GreCo, two of my favorite Greek spots in the city, and Krasi takes its place as a new favorite. Their all-Greek wine list is amazing, easily the best in the city, and probably one of the best in the country. The food is inventive, though with roots in various regions of Greece. I can't wait to dine there again.

Favorite BBQ Joint: Ellis Square Social, in Beverly, reworked their menu this year after being closed for a time due to the pandemic. Their new BBQ menu was a great decision, full of delicious comfort food, such as their superb Chili. If I lived closer, I'd be getting some of that Chili every week. You'll also find St. Louis Ribs, Brisket, Burnt Ends, Pulled Pork and more. Prices are very reasonable. there's plenty of tasty options, and their cocktail program remains compelling. Chef Jay Murray has a winner on his hands.
Favorite Steak HouseCoach Grill, in Wayland, may be in the suburbs but it is as good as any Boston steakhouse, offering a full menu of steak and seafood options. It also has a fascinating heritage, harkening back to the Red Coach Grill of my childhood. From a Bone-In Filet to Pan-Seared Atlantic Halibut, there are plenty of choices to appeal to your palate. Service is excellent and the expansive wine list has some excellent bargains. It also possesses the elegance of a high-end steakhouse and would be perfect for an intimate date. 

Favorite Cape Cod RestaurantEpic Oyster, in North Falmouth, is an excellent, casual seafood restaurant with some Portuguese influences. The main restaurant is within a dining car, with roots back to the 1920s. Though the menu has plenty of seafood options, from Oysters to Lobster Rolls, there are tasty non-seafood choices as well. Bang Bang Shrimp, Old School Spare Ribs, Stuffed Quahog, Miso Black Cod, and more. They also have some intriguing, and reasonably priced, off-list wines which you need to ask about as you won't find them on their menu.

Favorite Casual Greek Restaurant: The Farm Grill & Rotisserie, in Newton, is a killer, casual spot for Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Much of their food is prepared fresh every day, from Pastitsio to Rotisserie Chicken. Their Gyro Chicken is enticingly aromatic, with plenty of flavor and moist, tender meat. Everything is easy to get for take-out, and there are lots of options, such as 33 different Appetizers, each available in three sizes. Prices are extremely reasonable, such as a 4 pound, whole rotisserie chicken for only $10! They will be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2021, and I understand the reason for its longevity.

Favorite Farm to Table RestaurantFrank, in Beverly, is owned by famed Chef Frank McClelland, formerly of L''Espalier. This restaurant is only a year old, and also has an attached food and wine market, which is also worth visiting. Frank definitely excels at their pasta dishes, which had such a fine depth of flavor. Their charcuterie is also quite good. Their wine list, with primarily natural wines, is intriguing and compelling, with plenty of great choices for wine lovers. I hope to soon return to explore more of their menu.
Favorite Worcester Restaurant: Baba Sushi, a Japanese restaurant, made a nice impression on me this year. Their Sushi was fresh, tender, and ample, and definitely is a speciality. The other Japanese dishes we enjoyed, from Chicken Tori to Shumai, were also quite tasty. Before going to Worcester, I had done some research and Baba Sushi had many excellent reviews, and it lived up to its reputation. If I was in the area again, I would certainly return.

Favorite BakeryElm Street Sweets, in Somerville and Bedford, offers a variety of items like Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Snickerdoodle Cookies, Blueberry Crumble Pie, Pecan Carrot Cake, Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies, and more. Their Banana Bourbon Cream Pie is made with a nilla wafer crust, dulce de leche, fresh bananas, banana bourbon custard, vanilla whipped cream, and white chocolate shavings. It's delicious, with a prominent bourbon flavor, plenty of creamy whipped cream, a rich banana flavor, and a crunchy crust.

Favorite Lunch SpotPrince Pizzeria, on Route 1 in Saugus, will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2021, having offered pizza and Italian food for generations. I dined there as a child, and still dine there, mostly for lunch. With the pandemic, they closed their Lunch Buffet (which always was a great choice) and opened a large tent in their lot during the summer. They make a unique style of pizza, that reminds me in some ways of Greek pizza, and I usually get pizza when I dine there. However, I have enjoyed some of their other Italian dishes as well. It is a casual and reasonably priced restaurant, and owner Steve Castraberti is often on hand, ensuring the restaurant is well run.

Some of the other restaurants I enjoyed in 2020 include District Kitchen, Island Creek Oyster Bar (Burlington), Feng Shui (Burlington), Posto Bedford, Nick & Andy's, Fusion Taste (Stoneham), and Clam Box of Ipswich

Support the Restaurant Industry: As I said above, the restaurant industry has been devastated by this pandemic, especially as the federal government has done little to aid and assist the industry. Some restaurants have closed permanently and others may be forced to do so in the near future. We need to support our favorite restaurants as much as we are capable, from buying gift cards to ordering take-out, from getting delivery to tipping well. If you have a positive dining experience, tell your family and friends. Spread the word on social media. With vaccines starting to be disseminated, maybe things will positively change in the near future, and we can return to relative normality with the restaurant industry.

What were some of your favorite restaurants this year?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays To All

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my family, friends, my readers and everyone else!

May the glad tidings of this holiday season shine on you, your family and friends. This year, due to the pandemic, our celebrations will be different, and likely more low key. Most of us will have smaller celebrations, with only close groups of family members. This is necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and it is a small price to pay for the health of our loved ones. With vaccines starting to be given, next year's Christmas should be a return to normal. Please, please be safe this year.

This is one of my favorite times of year. It should be a joyous occasion, reveling in all of our blessings, for no matter what ills there may be, there still is much to appreciate. That appreciation deserves recognition and sharing, and not only during the holidays. Do not dwell on the negative but rather embrace all that is good in your life.

It is also a time for giving, for sharing with those less fortunate than us. Please donate as much as you can to your favorite charities, whether you give money, time or goods. Even small donations can make a significant impact. Think of more than just yourself at this time and throughout the year.

Make sure you have a safe holiday as well. Please, please, please don't drink and drive, and drive safely and cautiously. If you are going to drink, let someone else drive, or take a taxi, Uber or public transportation. Again, please do not drink and drive! I hope that everyone will remain around to celebrate the New Year and see what 2021 brings all of us.

Drink and dine with passion this holiday, as well as every day of the year! Passion is what gives our lives meaning, what drives us toward excellence. A life devoid of passion is empty and shallow, and desperately needs change. Seek out whatever makes you passionate and revel in its delights. And share your passion with others.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

2019 Oenops Apla Dry Rosé: The Beauty of Simplicity

"Simplicity is not a simple thing."
--Charlie Chaplin

It was surprising to me to see a quote by Charlie Chaplin on the label of a Greek wine, but if it's relevant, then why not use it?

Oenops Wines was founded in 2015 by Nikos Karatzas, who previously studied in Bordeaux and worked as the winemaker at Ktima Pavlidis. The name of the winery, Oenops, means "wine-face," and there is mention of an Oenops in The Odyssey. The winery is now located in an old pie factory in a building just outside Drama in Eastern Macedonia. Nikos sources grapes from vineyards in Drama and Macedonia, carefully choosing what he desires for his wines. 

The 2019 Oenops Apla Dry Rosé ($14.99) is a blend of indigenous grapes, 50% Xinomavro, 30% Limniona, and 20% Mavroudi, all from sustainable vineyards which are 15-45 years old. The grapes are fermented in concrete tanks and the wine is aged on the lees for about four months before bottling. 

The wine's name, Alpa, means "simply or plainly" and reflects Chaplain's quote. It seems that this Rosé is intended to be a simple wine, something easy drinking. It certainly is easy drinking, though it is far from simple, being fairly complex, especially at its low price point. With a 12.8% ABV, this Rosé has a rich pink color and an appealing nose of red fruits and citrus, and a savory hint. On the palate, it is crisp and dry, with delicious flavors of strawberry, cherry and hints of savory, almost a touch of tomato. The finish pleasantly lingers and it's a nicely balanced wine. 

A nice value Rosé that over delivers at its price point.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Bauer Wine & Spirits: A Tour With Howie Rubin

As you meander down Newbury Street in Boston, it's sad to see so many shuttered shops and restaurants. These are financially troubling times for many, but some are finding ways to survive, using their creativity to overcome the obstacles. Bauer Wine & Spirits, which was established over fifty years ago, is one of the survivors, although obviously it hasn't been easy. Recently, I visited Bauer, and spoke with Howie Rubin, the General Manager/Wine Buyer, about their wines and spirits, about how they are handling the pandemic, and more. 

Bauer Wine & Spirits is located below street level, in a 1700 square foot space, which is relatively small yet they have well used the space they have, packing in plenty of wines and spirits. The Bauer family was involved in wine business since the 1950s, opening their shop in the 1960s. Since then, a few different owners have taken over the store. 

In 1980, Howie Rubin, began working at the shop, so he has been there for 40 years, and he has no immediate plans for retirement. Howie's own experience in the wine industry began in 1975, when he worked at the London Wine Bar in San Francisco. In addition, he has worked the crush at Mayacamas Vineyards, and been a sommelier at the Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida. In Boston, he initially worked at a small wine bar in Quincy Market, before joining Bauer. In addition, Howie had a 10 year stint on WFNX radio, doing a wine program. With all that experience, Howie knows plenty about wine and the business of operating a wine store. 

To Howie, maybe the most important aspect of the wine store business is establishing relationships with their customers. To best service their customers, especially those who shop there regularly, they need to establish a level of trust, to get to understand the needs and desires of those customers. It's those relationships which allow Howie and the Bauer team to select the wines which best fit those customers. The trust they develop helps keep customers returning, seeking that personal service which caters to them. 

From my own experiences working at a wine shop, and from speaking to other wine store owners and employees, this is very important for many. Customers want to feel comfortable with wine store staff, wanting to trust them to make recommendations. Wine can seem intimidating to some people so they want people to make it easier for them. And if they trust you, they are far more likely to return to buy more wine. 

One of the biggest changes for Bauer Wines during the pandemic has been a large increase in delivery. Prior to the pandemic, they did about 40% delivery, which increased to 70%-80% for a time, though is currently closer to 60%. They also do curbside pick-up. You can visit the shop to peruse the shelves, and it is quite a fascinating place, with plenty of interesting wines, at all price points. As it is a small shop, they have had to carefully curate what they stock, so they can't carry everything, but there is much to interest any wine lover, including wines you might be hard pressed to find at many other local wine stores. 

As you enter the store, on the right side you'll find a large refrigerated case containing some of the most rare and expensive wines at the store. For example, you'll find two vintages (2008 and 2009) of the famed Screaming Eagle ($4,000) as well as every 1st Growth Bordeaux. You'll recognize many of the producer names within this cabinet and if you're seeking to splurge, this is an excellent place to do so, especially if you are seeking the classics from around the world. With the holidays here, this is the place to buy treasured gifts for someone special.

There is a second wine chiller, located deeper into the store, with more rare wines, especially French and Italian wines. 

Near the front of the store is their stock of Champagne, with other Sparkling Wines, from Franciacorta to Cremant, nearby as well. They mostly carry mainstream Champagnes, from the major Houses, though it would be nice if they carried more Grower Champagne. However, if you enjoy classic Champagne, they have plenty of good choices.
Some Dom Perignon

If you like Veuve Clicquot, you can find a Methusaleh bottle ($1350), which contains 6 liters, the equivalent of 8 750ml bottles.  

One of my favorite House Champagnes is Krug, and you can find their bubbly here.

Besides the Veuve Methusaleh, Bauer Wines has plenty of other large format wines, in various sizes, from wine regions across the world. These are great choices for holiday gifts, or if you are planning a small gathering. Most wine shops don't carry many large format wines so it's great to see a shop that has some many options. 

As you peruse the store, you'll find wines from many well known wine regions, from California to Italy, Germany to Portugal, Spain to France. There are wines are at all price points, with plenty under $20 and lots to splurge upon as well. There is also a small stock of half-bottles too. 

I found a good number of wines that I enjoy, including some top favorites. And I was intrigued by numerous other wines, which I'd never tasted before but want to try. They lack wines from some of the smaller wine regions, like Croatia and Georgia, though they have carried some of them before, and might bring in some in the future. However, that is a minor issue as it's a small store so it is difficult to carry everything 

It was great to see that they have a selection of Rosé wines, and don't see it merely as a summer wine. As I've often said, Rosé should a year-round wine, and goes well with so many different foods. I drink Rosé throughout the winter, enjoying it with dinner.  

You'll find a selection of Ports, from various producers, including Vintage Ports. The Ramos Pinto 20 Year Old is a killer wine, one of my favorite Ports. 

Besides Ports, there's a selection of dessert wines, from Ice Wine to Chinato, Madeira to Vermouth, and more. Howie recommended selections from Chinati Vergano, including their Chinato and Vermouth

In the Spanish wine section, Howie stated that the R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Viña Cubillo is one of the best $30 wines in the store. This is one of my favorite Spanish wineries and I would highly recommend their wines as well. 

As the current owner of Bauer Wines is Greek, they carry a number of Greek wines. The Domaine Gilvanos Paleokerisio Semi-Sparkling Orange Wine ($19.99) is unique and intriguing, and very popular at the store. It's probably one of the most unusual wines at their shop and something to excite any wine lover. 

Although Greek Retsina has a bad reputation for some, there are plenty of delicious bottlings nowadays and it's well worth checking them out. The Tetramythos Retsina ($14.99) is organic and was fermented in amphora. An excellent value wine and it could change your mind about Retsina. 

The Occhipinti wines, from Sicily, Italy, are compelling natural wines and their Il Frappato is one of my favorites of their portfolio. 

If you want to splurge, consider the House of Ganevat wines from the Jura region, imported by Kermit Lynch. I haven't tasted these wines before, though have enjoyed other Jura wines, but Howie highly recommended them. I may have to splurge to check these out.

Sean Thackrey is one of my favorite California winemakers and Bauer sometimes carries their wines, having recently sold out of his Pleaides. However, Howie told me that Sean Larkin is making wines in a similar vein, and strongly recommended the Larkin Cabernet Franc. Larkin's wines are small production, using fruit which he purchases from special vineyard sites.

I was pleased to see they had a good selection of Sake, including half-bottles. Some of the excellent choices include the Hakkaisan Snow Aged Junmai Ginjo, Wakatake Onikoroshi Daiginjo, Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo, and the Bunraku Yamahai Junmai. 

There is a large wall containing a diverse selection of spirits, including vodka, rum, gin, whiskey, and much more. These are well curated, offering compelling choices in all categories. They carry a number of locally produced spirits, from distilleries including Bully Boy, Whistle Pig, Mad River, and Hillrock. Japanese spirits are also available, from vodka to gin. 

Plenty of whiskey choices, including intriguing Japanese whiskies, and a wide range of Scotches. 

To the left at the front of the store is a special glass cabinet containing some of the more rare and expensive spirits, perfect for a splurge. Scotch, bourbon, tequila, and more. Lots of Whistle Pig Rye! 

Besides wine, Howie also has a passion for Tequila, so it's natural that Bauer carries some compeling, high end Tequilas, as well as Mezcals. For example, the above Darth Vader-looking bottle is the Clase Azul Ultra Extra Anejo Tequila, which sells for around $2,000.  The decanter itself is a work of art, while the tequila is supposed to be amazing. 

The shop sells Grand Mayan Tequila, and although you might prejudge them based on the bottling, you shouldn't as Howie states their tequila is quite delicious. 

Besides tequila, there is also the Clase Azul Joven Mezcal, with intricate beading in the stopper. 

At the back of the store is their craft beer selection, with plenty of popular brands as well.

There are wine accessories too, including Riedel glasses. 

You can find cocktail supplies as well, including olives, cherries and bitters.

Bauer Wine & Spirits has much to offer, including numerous rarities that are difficult to find elsewhere. You can find plenty of value wines there as well, so wine lovers of all types can find wines that will appeal to them. Their Spirits selection is compelling too. Howie Rubin impressed me with his knowledge, experience, and passion, and he is vital to the success of Bauer. However, the entire team at Bauer also contributes to its success. They work at building relationships with their customers, building trust. Take some time and check out Bauer Wine & Spirits.