(Since this was published, Bette is no longer with us and Pure Food & W has gotten it together)
love a great salad, especially in August with big, juicy, drippy, purple tomatoes standing in for a big, fat juicy duck. But, I really am not into a raw food regime, which seems more like a religion. So big surprise when friends took me to Pure Food and Wine (54 Irving Place) and I found the food delicious. This was some of the most flavorful food I've tasted in New York this summer. In their garden, mosquitoes feasted me upon, while we were all chomping down on algae (was great) and barely mushy barely warmed over samosas-- punchy complex concoctions.
Skip the huge morels though, without butter and high heat, kind of a waste. The wine had a different plot line. The wine is coded. O for organic B for biodynamic S for sustainable (aka chemical farming) V for vegan (made without egg white fining) Nothing the matter with that, except so much of the code was wrong. In fact, justs eyeballing it, 13 wines were miscoded. It didn't take much for the Wine Cop to come in and crack it.
Hedges:B (not for another three years) Yalumba: B (hah!) Drouhin: B (Though the vineyards they own are biodynamic, I doubt the grapes sourced for their bourgogne rouge are.) Ch. Routas: O (not as far as the winemaker knows. had lunch with him last month.) Bonny Doon: B& O (double eek! I think. I could be wrong but I think it was double. I think the Santa Cruz vineyard got certified in June 2007 which means the first bioD vintage didn't happen yet.) Vietti: B (like hell) Alois Kracher: B (ha!) Amisfield: B (no) Mas de Daumas Gassac: B (oops!) It goes on and on.
It's not that I'm tolerant of mistakes, I make plenty myself. The reason is because someone knows that biodynamic and organic are buzzwords and if you call some manipulated crap either, you can sell it. Because the general public won't know, right? Endearingly, when I brought up the discovery to my server he wasn't threatened. However, I have a feeling he thought I was a nut job.
While he listened, seeds of discontent planted even as he insisted the Australian Yalumba was biodynamic as well as the Hedges from Washington State. That was what he was taught in staff training, after all. I wonder if the sales person in charge of training lets the staff know that sustainable means a grower can use the weed-killer Roundup? Or that biodynamically grown doesn't necessarily mean naturally made? I know. I'm probably the only one in the room that cared. And I've got to wonder sometimes why I care. I suppose because I hate to see the wool being pulled over a wine drinkers eyes? Because I can see that biodynamic, organic and sustainable are marketers words? Ah well, such is the world. Do you think the model Giselle, a fan of the cuisine, cares that they put down sustainable for Domaine Chandon? (Of course, Sustainable means chemical farming. Do they know it?)
But maybe she could care if given a chance. Like, who would have believed the diners across town gave a hoot?
If the wine director of Pure want to see how they could incite passion in their patrons Super Models or plain folk, they should head cross town to Bette. (461 23rd Street (212) 366-0404) Wine Director Byron Bates invited me in and I was glad he did because I had heard about this miracle but never actually saw it in action. While I was drinking a charming Brignot rouge (gamay, pinot) and contemplating the Dard & Ribo St. Jo, I was amused to eavesdrop on the table next to me; some club types, a little Goth and a little Sex in the City. They were talking about Mr. Bates behind his back as their Wine God who could take them anywhere.