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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Valentine’s Day Bubbly

It’s been my mission to make Champagne and sparkling wine something not-too-special. And by that I mean that it’s so good, you won’t—and shouldn’t—wait for some “special” occasion or holiday to drink it! Having said that, I DO recommend that you pop open a bottle for Valentine’s Day. It’s the perfect start to a meal, perfect for a date, perfect to liven any conversation, and there's an almost infinite number of types, styles and prices of Champagnes and sparkling wines to choose from. How about a Cava, from Spain? Or a Prosecco from Italy? A traditional Champagne? Or an American sparkling wine from California…Long Island…or New Mexico? Valentine’s Day and sparkling wine, a great combination. Skip the gas station roses…

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Ten Wine Rules…NOT a “Manifesto”

There is bad wine. Some wine is not good, which means it’s bad—poorly made, and it has flaws. It might be cheap, but it might also be expensive.  It doesn’t make you a snob to think a wine is bad.  Not all expensive wine is good. You aren’t a low-class rube if you don’t drink $100 bottles all the time.  There is good wine that isn’t over-the-top expensive.  It’s not all about price.  Some good wine is expensive. It is occasionally about price.  Some good bottles do cost a lot. But $$$ doesn’t make it good. Sometimes you just need a beer.  Wine drinkers drink a lot of wine.  Just have a beer some nights.  You’ll be glad you did.…

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Cava…is Cool

Sparkling wine is viewed all too often as a luxury, a “wedding wine,” or something to be saved for a special occasion.  What’s wrong with Friday night?  Or after work on Tuesday?  After all, sparkling wine, including Champagne, is just "still" wine, (literally) that has just been fermented twice. And while my friends in the wine business tell me that New Yorkers have really jumped into sparkling wines and Champagnes and drink them all the time these days, even if that's true I don't think it's the case for the rest of the country.  There's a mystique about these wines that's both good and bad for the people who work hard to produce them from around the world—Champagne and Crémant…

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Bubbles For Summer

Champagne isn't only for New Year's Eve, weddings of people you love and funerals of people you didn't.  Here's a quote from Lily Bollinger of the famous producer family of the same name, which perfectly captures all the reasons you should drink it: "I drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty." You probably already know or at least have heard of the big "marques" -  Champagnes made in the millions of bottles annually, such as Veuve Cliquot, Moet & Chandon…

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