Jersey Restaurants: Chez Catherine in Westfield

This tiny place in Westfield, adjacent to a highway-type franchise hotel, bills itself as “one of the best French restaurants in New Jersey.” That is nonsense. It’s got to be the best French restaurant in New Jersey. And one of the best of any kind. I had lunch here years ago and remember it to be good but unremarkable. Not so on September 26, when my date and I decided to see what all the acclaim is really about. We were greeted warmly and escorted to our table, which was formal and lovely but not over the top. After a short wait, our waiter approached and began the service, which throughout the evening was attentive but not intrusive. And he…

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A Little Bit About Burgundy: Great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

France, and specifically Bourgogne, what we in the great USA call Burgundy, is where the world's best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are grown. And I say "grown" because Burgundy is all about the vineyard rather than the chateau or winery. Not to say that there aren't some excellent Pinots and Chardonnays from other places - old world and new, oaked and unoaked, cool climate and hot climate, austere and crisp.  Of course, there are also sweet, caramel-y, and in my view pretty much undrinkable wines from those places, too. Think Yellowtail, or, actually, don't. I've tasted Pinots from New Zealand and Oregon that rival the best from Burgundy, and recently I had a Chardonnay from Italy that I might have…

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Wine of the Week: Domaine de L’Olivier Chardonnay 2009

Good Chard under ten bucks is almost unheard of.  This is one of them.  And it's a pretty good wine to serve before, if not with, the Thanksgiving meal. Now if you're a real fan of big, sweet, caramel-y, high alcohol Chardonnays you probably won't be impressed.  Because this is a crisp, virtually unoaked, almost Chablis-like wine, with citrus and pineapple aromas and flavors of lemon and a hint of vanilla. This is not from Burgundy, of course; it's from the Languedoc-Roussillon in the very southeast, bordering on the Mediterranean, and the wine is classified "Pays d'Oc".  That means, mainly, it's good table wine from a fairly large region. And it also is an amazingly good, remarkably inexpensive wine that…

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