October 28, 2018
by Lindsay Furia - the Cru
Justin and I always try and do something extravagant for each other’s birthdays. When he turned 30 two years ago, we both saw Kimmeridgian soil for the first time in Champagne and Chablis. Last year, we rang in his 31st with my best friends in Tuscany. Since his birthday this year fell four weeks before our wedding, we took a mini-pre-honeymoon (is that a thing?) to NYC for a quick two-day trip. I lived in New York from 2008-2014 and had never shown him NYC from my point of view: a lot of walking, not a lot of plans, and popping in places here and there.
THURSDAY LUNCH: I’m a huge fan of Brooklyn and lived in Greenpoint for years, so an Airbnb in Bed-Stuy (Bedford-Stuyvesant) it was. It was a cute little garden studio attached to a beautiful old monstrosity a block from the J train.
We landed in Newark and took an Uber straight to Maison-Premiere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This place specializes in oysters and has an unrivaled Muscadet selection. You order the oysters with a golf pencil and little slip of paper (like you would at a sushi restaurant) and on this day, they were offering around 30 different oysters on the half shell. We made our selections and threw in a lobster roll for good measure while enjoying a bottle of “Magic of Ju-Ju” from Domaine Agnès and René Mosse, a natural Chenin Blanc from Anjou in the Loire Valley.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON: We popped in Marlow & Sons for a drink after lunch—one of my favorite old haunts and definitely a Williamsburg classic. Then, it was time for my all-time favorite part of vacation, a siesta, before getting ready for an evening out.
THURSDAY EVENING: We met one of Justin’s best childhood friends at Roberta’s for dinner. IMHO, it’s one of the most magical places on earth. What started as a pizza shop in the warehouse district of Bushwick about a decade ago is now a renowned culinary hotspot with a beautiful wine list. The feeling it creates is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and hours can be lost in the blink of an eye.
We noshed on housemade straciatella with grilled bread, squid with blood orange, some pastas, some pizza. It was perfect. For our white that night, we all loved the Austrian Riesling I selected: Josef Jamek, Ried Klaus from the Wachau, 2014 (Riesling from the Wachau must be fermented dry). For red, we thoroughly enjoyed a natural Cab Franc from Anjou (can you tell I love the Loire?) from Nicolas Réau. It was a fantastic evening.
FRIDAY LUNCH: On day two, we were off to Manhattan to meet some old friends of mine for lunch. After, we wandered around the Flatiron District and Madison Square Park for the early part of the afternoon.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON: I was thrilled when Justin admitted he preferred Brooklyn, so we hopped on the L train back to Williamsburg for a few glasses of wine at Reynards in the Wythe Hotel along with some cheese, called Dorset, a raw cow’s milk from Vermont. It was an excellent stop, but siesta time was getting near.
FRIDAY EVENING: We took a walk around Domino Park, a beautiful new space where the old Domino Sugar factory is on the East River, right near the Williamsburg Bridge. We had a late dinner reservation at Leuca, Andrew Carmellini’s new southern Italian restaurant in The William Vale Hotel, so we had some time to kill.
We stopped at The Four Horsemen, a natural wine bar owned by the frontman of LCD Soundsystem. If you’re a Master of None fan, this is also where Dev took a string of blind dates on one of the episodes. We were walk-ins and it was a Friday night at 8, so I wasn’t sure to expect: it was some of the warmest, most hospitable, kindest service I’ve experienced in years. Not joking. I was looking for bubbles, and ordered a sparking Vinho Verde on recommendation; Justin had an orange pinot grigio from Slovenia. We also had some warm bread with cultured butter and Cantabrian anchovies. It was perfect and I cannot wait to go back.
We then walked across Williamsburg to the impressive William Vale. While we waited for our table at Leuca, we each had a glass of Fiano from Mastroberardino. Dinner was lovely: tuna crudo, margherita pizza, squid ink pasta and squash & duck agnolotti. We washed it all down with one of our all-time favs, Cos Frappato from Sicily. With dessert, Justin had an Amaro from Piemonte, dating back to the early 70s. I can still smell it, like evergreen heaven, almost light, incredibly dry, and mesmerizing. Off to bed we went, with a 5:00 p.m. flight the next day.
SATURDAY LUNCH: On Justin’s official birthday, we celebrated at Le Coucou in Manhattan. Our luggage went with us so we could have a long lovely lunch then go straight to the airport. It was a flawless plan. First of all, when you are in this space, you really feel like you are in Paris. This is also Chef David Falk’s favorite restaurant, and when he takes the Boca chefs on research & development, he always takes them here.
We started with some La Caravelle champagne and decided to enjoy wines by the glass so we could pair, instead of a bottle. Justin ordered whitefish quenelles with caviar & bavette steak with escargots butter. I ordered lobster salad & crepinette filled with chicken and foie gras. Domaine Berthet-Bondet, Cotes du Jura, was amazing with my lobster. The team at Boca surprised us with a mid-course of sweetbreads and Chassagne-Montrachet (it wasn’t bad, lol)! My favorite pairing was Domaine Pierre Guillemot’s Savigny-Les-Beaune with the crepinette, and we enjoyed Alain Graillot’s Crozes-Hermitage with the steak.
After lunch, and lots of Pepcid, back to Alexandria, Ky., we flew, where we swore off wine and rich food for the foreseeable future. We swore to ourselves to take a trip to NYC at least once a year, and never longer than two days. We also swore to ourselves to never stop traveling, and thank our lucky stars that we found each other.