The end of summer vacation means it’s time to start thinking about the next vacation. And for those who fancy themselves foodies or oenophiles (or both), planning a great escape to a land known for palatable plates and fine wine can be a perfect way to stave off end-of-summer blues. Craving an edible adventure, I asked North Fork chefs, restaurateurs and winemakers for recommendations. Their answers came from far, wide and down under. Consider these some of the world’s most delicious destinations.
“We just spent a few weeks in Puglia, Italy this past June mostly just in the Salento region without [many] preconceived notions or knowledge about the wines and the cuisine. Both were extremely interesting and unique.
What interests me more about visiting different regions, particularly in the old world, is learning about different winemakers’ philosophies regarding stylistic choices in the wines themselves. These choices can be reflected by or influencing of the local cuisine as well as the culture itself. Preferences in flavor profiles as well as the balance of wine chemistry — as in extraction, acid levels, tannins, color, fruitiness — all play a role in regional identity.
But, we are not trying to apply [other identities] at home. We are trying to discover what makes our local food and wine unique and interesting and together build a cuisine out of it. And maybe someday define a local culture by it. I feel we are on the cusp of establishing food traditions, regional wine styles and grape varieties that are uniquely expressive of this place and will bring us to the next level of a maturing wine region.”
Andrew Rockwell, assistant winemaker at Sparkling Pointe
“My wife and I went to France for our honeymoon in 2015… When we were in Champagne, we visited the town of Ay. The first visit that really sticks out in my mind is to Champagne Geoffroy’s new winery. They’re one of the top grower champagnes, as we’d call them in America.
We got there and [winemakerJean-Baptiste Geoffroy] gave us this fantastic tour, showed us his cellars, talked about everything he did. I have a very strong scientific background so it was great that he was very technical with me… In 100 years of making champagne, they’ve figured out lots of little idiosyncrasies of making sparkling wine, aging it and all the things that can come up during that process. But modern science is in that process as well — having a deep understanding of what’s going on in the fermentation, what’s going on during the aging process, how the different decisions you make impact the wine.
That’s what we do [at Sparkling Pointe]. I’d say that was good reinforcement, to go to a town that’s been making wine for hundreds and hundreds of years and see that what you’re doing is right — it is amazing.”
Stephan Bogardus, executive chef at North Fork Table & Inn
“This past January, I went to the Odisha state in India for 15 days.
We got quite the experience. There’s a lot of rice around… Based on what was in season, there were vegetables at markets. I saw how chefs handle spices and how they physically cooked… I brought back a number of spices. We used a lot of cardamom with rhubarb. We were smoking some oysters and caviar with cinnamon, which was inspired by some of the flavors I saw in India.
The one thing that was really interesting was the level of selflessness. Because it wasn’t as affluent, I thought there’d be people looking for handouts, but people were happy. That is something I’ve tried to experience and explain to everyone: pride in your craft helps you offer people a better experience.”
Sarah Phillips, owner of First and South
“Thailand is one. The first place our chef worked was a Thai restaurant so he really has a panache for the culture and flavorings. Currently, we’re doing PEI mussels — it’s a standard New England menu item, but we’re giving it our own run with locally-grown lemongrass and Thai basil.
Instead of coconut milk, we’re serving in white wine and garlic. It’s really light and summery. You don’t need the coconut milk in the heat, you just want to eat that mussel and get the vibrancy from the lemongrass, Thai basil and mussel itself.”
“We visited a larger winery in New Zealand in 2005.
New Zealand, among other things, is known for screw caps. I had an illuminating conversation with [the winemaker] in which he explained to me they had done trials with the same wine under a cork and under a screw cap. They found having reduction problems in the wine was more about the winemaking than the closure.
We were already heading towards screw caps. We didn’t start using them until 2008, and I was there in 2005, but it was one more thing in the collection of knowledge that nudged us further in that direction.”