Tag Archives: upper west side

How to Pick a Wine Store

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By Ron Blumenfeld

People have been making wine since they discovered that fermented grape juice was an appealing alternative to water.

It’s hard to know how wine tasted thousands of years ago. But the wines we enjoy today are usually quite drinkable and often delicious. And wine’s gone truly global, with a huge range of price points and styles.

The paradox: how to find wines you like amidst all this plenty. The fact is that most of us could use a little help, and wine stores can be one place to find it.

At one end of the spectrum are the wine supermarkets like the national chain Total Wine or the rapidly-expanding BevMo!, with outposts in California and Arizona. Both outfits offer massive choice and good prices. Still, generally, when it comes to choosing a wine that will suit your taste and pocketbook, you’re on your own. That’s fine if you know exactly what you want, or if the occasion calls for a well-priced “mass market” wine (like big beach parties or BBQ’s where wine is not a focus).

You’ll have a very different shopping experience at a place like West Side Wines, located on Columbus Avenue and 83rd Street. (West Side Wines stocks bottles Domaine des Bories; I’m a part-owner.). It’s just big enough for the owner, Andy Besch, to offer a personally-vetted international selection, favoring smaller producers, often from lesser-known regions. He devotes no floor space to mass-market wines, and isn’t influenced by wine ratings. He sells only what he likes, and loves to send customers home with wine they didn’t expect to buy.

Then there are stores that offer a little of both—some mass market selections and some hand-picked ones. You may be confronted with stacks of wine at the door, but further inside is often a more intriguing selection, and a wine geek who can’t wait to tell you about it.

Explore wine stores until you find one (or two) that you can call your wine home. Make yourself—and your wine tastes—known. Ask questions. Stick to your favorites, but from time to time, let knowledgeable salespeople guide you outside your comfort zone.

Ron Blumenfeld is part owner of French vineyard Domaine des Bories.

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A New Westside Market Opens on Broadway on the Upper West Side

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The newest Westside Market opened today on Broadway at 97th Street, and Upper West Side food shoppers thronged the store for a first look at the produce, the prepared foods and the salad bar.

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The neighbors seemed mostly pleased, but being New Yorkers, they of course had to kvetch.

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While inside, Maria Zoitas, John’s wife of 40 years who makes all the store’s prepared foods, surveyed her new domain.

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People are Tired of Zabar’s, says Gastronomie 491 Owner

Gastronomie 49, opening day, March 21, 2011. Photo: Laura B. Weiss

Just-opened Upper West Side food specialty shop Gastronomie 491 owner Nicole Ahronee says, “People are tired of going to Zabar’s,” and that they’re eager for an alternative to the 70-plus-year old food emporium. Gastronomie 491, an upscale eat-in and take-out place, is just a few short blocks away from Zabar’s, which is on Broadway at 80th Street.

“They’re so grateful…having this in the neighborhood,” the auburn-haired owner said on opening day of locals’ reactions to the food, cheese and desserts market that opened March 21 at Columbus and 84th Street.

When asked to respond to Ahronee’s contention that people are tiring of Zabar’s, the owners, Stanley and Saul Zabar, said through a spokesman, that people should “see our Facebook page, and our blog, which reveal that Zabar’s is, and continues to be, greatly appreciated by our customers.”

On the night that Gastronomie 491 opened its doors to customers, a steady stream of curious locals trekked in and out. A few were buying. Most were food tourists eying the artfully displayed fresh vegetables and prepared foods like cauliflower au gratin with olives.

“I know the neighborhood,” Ahronee said as she stood in the front of the shop greeting neighbors and friends offering good wishes and gifts of potted plants. “I can feel the energy.”


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Gastronomie 491 Food Market and Cafe Opens on Upper West Side

I missed yesterday’s press preview for the opening of the new Upper West Side specialty food store and cafe, Gastronomie 491. But you can get some idea of what the  place is all about  from these photos, supplied by the market’s  publicist.

If you can’t live without items like Sant’ Eustachio coffee or Maisie Jane’s organic almonds and almond butters, you can find them at the 2,200 square foot market and eatery.

The prices don’t seem totally over-the-top  (A dinner menu charcuterie plate goes for $15.00; Sicilian style seared yellow fin tuna, $22.00).

Owner Nicole Ahronee seems to have put together an attractive, welcoming spot. How does the food taste? I’ll get back to you on that.

Gastronomie 491

491 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024
212.974.7871

Photos: Michael Tulipan 

 

 

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Upper West Side Food News: 16 Handles, Westside Market, Chat Massala Eating Stationer

 

Westside Market still not open.

Photo: Laura B. Weiss

Photo: Laura B. Weiss

I know I said I wasn’t going to write about the Upper West Side anymore. OK, go ahead and call me a liar. Above 96th Street, there’s a lot of action. 16 Handles is opening soon and Westside Market may finally greet its first food shoppers next month.

Here’s some food news you’ll want to know:

  • 16 Handles, the make-your-own-yogurt-mishmash outfit, is opening its newest shop at 2600 Braodway between 98th and 99th Street March 2, according to a worker inside the partially completed interior build-out. They’re going to have a new machine that mixes together different yogurts into one treat. The story of the chain’s expansion uptown was originally broken by the Westside Rag.
  • Local merchants say Westside Market, which was suppose to open in January, is now slated to start selling groceries in March. The longtime UWS grocer is going into the former Duane Reade space at 2589 Broadway, between 97th & 98th.
  • The gentleman who sits behind the counter at Westside Stationers on Broadway at the corner of 99th Street was eating an orange sprinkled with chat masala when I walked in. His daughter-in-law had brought him a plate of fruit sprinkled with the traditional Indian spice mixture. Why not just eat the orange au naturel? I asked him. “I said to her ‘put something on it to make it more interesting,” he replied, popping a slice into his mouth.
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