Milou en mai: My Month of May

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
April 30, 2006

Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng May 2006

I love the movie Milou en mai (1990)* by Louis Malle for many reasons. A depiction of the highs and lows and absurdities of life, this movie charms me with the main character Milou, played by Michel Piccoli, who retains a child-like nature as an older man dealing with the chaotic world around him. The singsong of the film title tingles me. And, May being my birthday month, it’s especially endearing to me. This May, however, was a bit out of the norm as I ended up spending most of the month homebound due to overfatigue followed by bronchitis. It was a month of slowing down and practically zero wine consumption.

My life was in slow motion.

Usually a time of full-blown festivities, this year as my mind continued racing, my body was already checked into a let-me-rest mode. So for the one-year anniversary of Cravings, I will share a short selection of my favorite things, old and new.

Last month’s Sipping featured wine bars in Paris. Bringing it closer to home, my all-time favorite spot in town for wine discoveries is Gramercy Tavern. Here is why I consistently rave about GT:

  1. There is a 3-oz. tasting option next to the standard 6-oz. glass option. (Even sparkling wines and champagne can be experienced in 3-oz. or 5-oz. servings.)
  2. The list is constantly evolving.
  3. You’ll find it comforting to see classics like the 2004 Turley Zinfandel from California, but should you be in a curious mood, you can also sample an indigenous red from Hungary.

On a recent visit, I enjoyed some rare and fun treats:

2002 Montus Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec, Madiran, France ($5.50/$10.50)
A not-so-well-known small white wine appellation from southwest France. It is made 100% from a local grape, Petit Courbu. Deep golden, it is luscious with a strong overtone of ripe apricots, both on the nose and the palate.

2005 Channing Perrine Mudd Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, North Fork of Long Island, New York ($4.50/$8.50)
Long Island Sauvignon Blancs all have a grassy character in common (one of my favorites comes from Macari Vineyards). They are much less pronounced than their New Zealand counterparts and even leaner than those from Bordeaux or the Loire. Really a very lovely warm weather or pre-meal choice.

2000 Kir-Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro, Naoussa, Greece ($5.75/$11.00)
In what other city outside of Greece—I’m serious—can you find a top Greek red by the glass? This is one of the best currently coming out of Greece: top producer (Kir-Yianni), prized appellation (Naoussa), stellar vintage (2000) and tastiest indigenous grape (Xinomavro). What else can one ask for? The very pleasant bartender described this wine as a red with a good amount of tannin that doesn’t linger… strange but true. Try for yourself. Here is a great site I found on Greek wines: All About Greek Wine.

Celia is featuring Jimmy Bradley of The Red Cat this month. I happen to have my own Red Cat tale to share. On Cam’s (my former personal trainer) last visit, we spent a lovely evening there, lingering till closing. As the bar emptied out, we witnessed some regulars custom ordering a cocktail: the Honey Bee. Incredibly fun and generous, they not only shared glasses of their nightcap with us but also passed on the mix:

    Honey Bee (courtesy of R. Iles):
      1½ oz. 10 Cane Rum
      2 teaspoon honey
      ¾ oz. fresh lime juice

  1. Microwave rum for 30 seconds
  2. Stir honey and rum into cocktail shaker
  3. Add lime juice
  4. Shake, strain and pour into a flute

So this month, the Cravings editorial team had an ambrosial dinner meeting at the restaurant du jour, A Voce. Here are my coup de coeurs:

Insalata “A Voce,” carne cruda, homemade pappardelle and the 2004 Gérard Tremblay Chablis.

The secret is out: Our beloved wine director of Gaia (under the umbrella of the MARC restaurant group**), Olivier Flosse, is splitting his time looking after lucky patrons at A Voce these days.

I brunch every weekend searching for the perfect benedict-and-Bloody Mary combo. I look for wholesome fresh produce, good service, convivial ambience and QPR (Quality-Price Ratio). Brunch is seemingly the easiest thing to pull off, but maybe because it is so basic, most of the time you get plain mediocrity. Nothing great, nothing wrong either, but I’m usually left hungering for better. This month my favorite find was at Jane:

The “Best Bloody Mary” came complimentary with my Benedict Johnny ($15) (poached eggs, house-made chicken sausage, corn pancakes, roasted tomato hollandaise).

The Bloody Mary could have toned down a bit on the spice, but the Benedict Johnny was original and satisfying. I loved the delicate corn pancakes (almost like blinis with corn) with the sausage layered on, topped with eggs covered in the hollandaise sauce with diced tomatoes. It comes with a very tasty potato hash on the side. A winner!

Finally, a little about me
Here is the music that rocks my world:
1. Favorite jazz musicians: Chet Baker & Keith Jarrett
2. Music I immerse myself in during writing deadlines:      Radiohead
3. Mesmerized by: Véronique Gens singing _Berlioz’s Les _
    nuits d’été with the Lyon National Opera Orchestra

*The English title is terrible…May Fools.
**Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation

Gramercy Tavern
42 E 20th St
(Broadway & Park Ave S)

The Red Cat
227 Tenth Ave
(23rd & 24th St)

A Voce
41 Madison Ave
@ 26th St

100 W Houston St
(La Guardia Pl & Thompson St)

Credits: Photograph by Laura Razzano

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