The Joy of Vouvray!

I had the best Secret Santa this year!  I got Yoga Socks, a beautiful plant, an exceptional healthy dinner and…two bottles of wine.  One of those bottles I popped on my own while Michael was working and enjoyed with a solo dinner, snuggled in a blanket on the couch.  The other, I saved to enjoy with Michael.  It was a 2010 Les Trois Argiles Vouvray.

Vouvray is a region in the Loire Valley in France and is east of the city of Tours.  Vouvray  is typically 100% Chenin Blanc, but the grape Arbois is also permitted, though rarely seen.  Vouvray itself is versatile in that it can be made in multiple styles from dry to sweet.  Sec is dry with less than .4% residual sugar, from there you move to Demi-Sec, Moelleux and finally Doux which is the sweetest with 4.5% residual sugar.  It can also be made into a sparkling wine.  Traditionally  Vouvray is made with neutral barrels or stainless steel and does not go into malolactic fermentation.  This wine is bottled early and ages in the bottle.  Many fine Vouvray’s especially those that are Moelleux or Doux can age for decades.  The Sec or Demi-Sec have potential to age for 15-20 years.

This region is actually very cool and harvests are often late here, sometimes the latest in all of France falling into November. If a year is very cool more sparkling wine will be made as there is higher acid in the grapes, whereas in warmer years they will lean toward making more Vouvray.  The finest Vouvray’s are the product of Noble Rot much as Sautermes are.

Besides the cool temperatures, this area is also known for vineyards on cliff tops. The limestone cliffs below were often used for the harvesting of tuffeau rocks used to build Chateaux.  These caves that were created were then turned into cellars.  The entire area is situated on a plateau and most vineyards  face the river.

This is a food friendly wine, like Riesling and goes well with chicken, seafood, pork, soft cheeses, fruit and almonds.  The reviews of the 2010 Le Trois Argiles specifically recommended shrimp, crab or lobster…so…

I threw together a quick Scampi.  When I say quick, I mean take all the shortcuts because Michael just got home and is really hungry!  He tossed some langoustine ragoons in the oven along with the Par baked Ciabatta I had picked up.  I whipped up a salad with herb greens and pine nuts, threw on a pot to boil some linguine and got some butter into a pan on the stove.  We cheated and picked up frozen precooked shrimp, which we defrosted under cold running water and then tossed in olive oil with garlic and salt.  This was a quick cook when the butter was done and then we added a little of the Vouvray as well as fresh parsley.  This was a 15 minute meal.  As a result, the shrimp missed out on picking up lots of the flavors, but all in all it was a good match.  Next time it will be better.

The Vouvray was suggested to drink at 47 degrees, but we found that we enjoyed it more and more as it warmed over the course of the evening.  For me the nose was the spray as you cut into a fresh green apple.  It had beautiful acid that was not overpowering and made you want to go back for more and more.

It is my understanding that it goes beautifully with Turkey or Ham, sooo if your Christmas dinner has either on the menu, I suggest picking up a bottle.  Many very good Vouvray’s can be found between $15 and $20, so they are very affordable.

Shrimp Scampi, Salad, crusty bread and a Vouvray!

Shrimp Scampi, Salad, crusty bread and a Vouvray!

The Poppy Den – Angelo Sosa’s Eclectic and Amazing Creation

Poppy Den Booth

We are Top Chef watchers here.  Kinda fans of the show.  Enough so that when Kristen was knocked off this past season we went online to complain.  We were not giant fans of Angelo Sosa when he was on top chef in Season 7.  So….going into his restaurant, he did not have a free pass.  We left with a whole new respect for the man.

A friend of mine had recommended the new restaurant “Poppy Den” at Tivoli a month or so ago.  Michael and I actually dropped by to see the menu after our lunch at the View earlier this month. Today, we went back for a late lunch to try it out.

First the hosted was friendly and asked a few more questions than I was used to.  She asked where we would like to sit, booth or table, my first name, my last name…and then walked us to our booth.

Poppy Den Architecture

Poppy Den Architecture

The restaurant is eclectic and beautiful.

White walls with white washed beams, I-beams on the outside walls with spray painted orange and factory numbers, tufted curved booths with lovely white and gray upholstery, clean dark brown wooden tables, mismatched china on the table, painted white branchy chandeliers…orange, dark brown (almost black), with greys and various tones of white….very hip and very well thought out.  So, atmosphere from the top was pretty good.  Then I listened to the music…this could really be my Pandora channel..Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons…I was feeling at home.

April was the afternoon bartender who was doubling as our waitress.  We ordered the PuPu platter which included the Sweet pea soup, Jarred Tuna, Watermelon Salad, Meatballs and fish fritters.  Then we added the Tuna Deviled Eggs and the Tabouleh lettuce wrap with sesame dressing.  Michael ordered the Lunatic White Blend and I was trying to decide between the Justin Sauvignon Blanc and the Zaca Mesa Chardonnay.  April was so kind as to bring me a sample of each so that I could decide.  I went with the Zaca Mesa Chardonnay.  It had just the right amount of oak, balanced with perfect acid.

Poppy Den Devil Tuna & Tabouleh lettuce wrap

Devil Tuna & Tabouleh lettuce wrap

April brought a small dish of kimchi pickles as a gift from the chef to begin.  They were crisp and spicy without being too hot. Then the Tabouleh lettuce wrap with green apple, bean sprouts and bulgar arrived with the Tuna Deviled eggs with scallions, paprika oil and cilantro.  The tabouleh lettuce wrap had the perfect dressing.  The oil was subtle, making the dish softer without adding any heaviness, the acid was low and Michael’s Lunatic white blend paired perfectly.  The Tuna Deviled Eggs was really lovely, chopped raw tuna along side chopped egg whites.  Perfectly seasoned this was stunning with the Chardonnay.

Poppy Den Pupu Platter

Poppy Den Pupu Platter

Then the towering PuPu Platter arrived on a three-tiered tea-tray stand.  The top held two portions each of the sweet pea soup with edamame and basil chilled, and the watermelon salad with goat cheese.  The next level held  2 portions of the Jarred tuna with celery, red onions, scallion and sriracha served with a toasted slice of baguette and the bottom level held two dishes, one with 4 of the Aunt Armen’s fish fritters in a kimchi relish with dill and lemon and the “meatballs and tomato “my style” with basil and parmesan cheese.    The presentation was lovely and we started with the warm dishes before they got cold.

Aunt Carmen’s fish fritters were lovely and paired wonderfully with the Chardonnay.  The levels of aroma’s that opened in my mouth just kept going.  The Meatballs were wonderful with the Lunatic blend, the sweetness paired nicely with the spice in the meatballs.  We moved onto the sweet pea soup, which was wonderful and cooling after the heat of the meatballs.  It paired wonderfully with the Lunatic blend.

Watermelon & Pea Soup

Watermelon & Pea Soup

The Watermelon salad was simple and sublime and went wonderfully with the Lunatic also.  The Jarred tuna was really glorious with both wines in different ways.  Each wine pulled up something different in the dish and highlighted it!

April came back with the desert menu and suggested her favorite the Chips and Ice cream.  She suggested the lemon poppy-seed ice cream.  She had not steered us wrong yet, so we said, of course.  The dish came out and she warned us that the potato chips were hot, right out of the fryer.  Dipping into the lemon poppy-seed ice cream with the warm salty handmade chips was the perfect blend of sweet and salty and was delightful.

Poppy Den Dessert

Poppy Den Dessert

April was finishing downstairs and was heading up to do a second shift at the upstairs bar and invited us up to see it. Up stairs is stunning, with a great 2nd floor view of Tivoli the sun setting, soft sheer drapes on the walls and rich burgundies of the plush rugs the clean crèmes and browns of the other plush seating and a high ceiling the lounge is stunning, the upstairs patio is over the side of the restaurant and with it’s curved seating feels so exclusive.  And they do have a room set up for dinner service upstairs that can be booked for private events.  When we walked upstairs one of the staff members who had passed us downstairs asked how our late lunch was and if now that we were upstairs during happy hour if we would like to have cocktail or sparkling wine?  One of the staff out on the patio said we should see the place on Friday night when the lounge and patio are full and there is a DJ playing.  They were all very proud of the restaurant that they work in.

I have no complaints and you will have to put a hand across my mouth to keep me from gushing.  This was a really wonderful experience, great design, great food and a warm friendly and attentive staff.  If you are in Vegas, don’t miss this place!