Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fiji's National Drink

After presenting kava to the chief of the nearby Onduavillage, Zane is granted the honor of joining an exclusive traditional kava ceremony.

Bula! Welcome to Fiji, Zane Lamprey’s next stop on Chug! One of the most remote places in the world, Fiji is located in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean where the natives cherish a unique drinking tradition, the Kava Ceremony. Fiji Kava is used as a symbol to bring two groups of people together in order to break the barriers of unfamiliarity and to bond like neighborly friends. Following customs in Fiji, community leaders present Kava as a “host” gift when visiting a new village, at which point a specific protocol unravels.

Kava Ceremony

Zane discovers how two different communities of people gather and connect in a live Kava ceremony. The Fijian Kava ceremony is tied to numerous myths: that it makes you hallucinate, Fijians are obsessed with it, and it tastes downright loathsome. On the up and up, Kava comes from the root of the Yaqona (piper methsticum) bush, a relative of the pepper plant, and it happens to be one of Fiji’s biggest crops and exports. Kava is often mistakenly associated with Ayuhuasca, the hallucinogenic ceremonial drink from the Amazon. Truth be told, its effects are mild and it does not put you into a trance. Kava will, however, numb your face, and in larger doses, it puts you into a relaxed frame of mind. Too much imbibing will put you into a deep sleep. Maybe this could be the Europeans answer to Absinthe, otherwise known as the Green Fairy. Most Fiji islanders drink Kava daily, which could account for their slower more relaxed pace in life, something referred to as “Fiji time.”

Kava is consumed in two ways on the Fiji islands. As Zane experienced the root beverage, it was consumed in a ceremonial style, but it is also a casual drink consumed on a daily basis by the locals—just as people would drink a glass of wine or a hot cup of tea when they mingle with friends, or simply unwind from the demands of an average work day. Crafting the beverage involves grinding up the root, and then straining the liquid with water, usually with a twisted up shirt, into a large communal bowl.

Photograph by Inzane Entertainment/ A. Tad Chamberlain

Bula! The Fiji Familial Greeting

Once the Kava is strained and mixed, words are exchanged in Fijian, followed by clapping. Zane claps once as the communal bowl is passed to him, then he chugs the drinks in one large gulp, followed by a series of three claps. Once the communal bowl passes around the room, everyone is now considered to be friends and the true partying begins with dancing, singing, and eating. So Bula! Bula! Say it once or twice as the locals do. It’s hard to say the words without smiling, because the word is spoke throughout the isles of Fiji. Bula originates from the Fijian culture and means anything from hello, goodbye, welcome, love and more. Ultimately, Bula mean LIFE: a blessing of health and happiness. So Bula to you, now Chug!

ProTip: Kava is not to be confused with Cava, Spain’s answer to Champagne. Cava is a sparkling wine made in the “methode champenoise” style, which is the technique used to make Champagne, but cannot be called that since it’s not made in the French region delineated as Champagne. Cava is similar to Prosecco, the Italian’s answer to Champagne, but it tends to sport more flavor and sophistication. Kava, on the other hand, is a native drink made explicitly to numb your face, or better yet, to bring people together. It’s a warming community beverage meant to promote peace, friendship, and overall political bonding of tribal roots

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Schnaps: Austria's Winter Cocktail of Choice

Schnaps: Austria’s Winter Cocktail of Choice

Photograph by Inzane Entertainment/ Melissa Schilling
Austria is the birthplace of one of the most influential turning points in the evolution of beer. 
Zane begins his journey in the ancient border town of Salzburg, a literal stones throw
from the German border and only about 70 miles east of the beer mecca of Munich Germany.

Tonight on Chug, Zane visits Austria for a first-hand encounter with cold-weather concoctions, local beers, and a unique way to down freshly made wine in frosty cold mugs. Since most of the Northern Hemisphere is hunkering down for winter right this very moment, Zane’s encounter with Austria’s choice winter tipple, Schnaps, proves relevant for those in need of staving off Jack Frost.

What is Schnaps?

In a country where the cocktail scene is not embraced like pink Cosmos, Manhattans, and dirty martinis are in the States.

Photograph by Inzane Entertainment/ Melissa Schilling

The word itself is derived from the Germanic languages and literally means, “swallow.” Genuine Schnaps resembles nothing of the cordial-like American version, spelled with two “p”s (Schnapps), in flavor or in customary drinking style. Schnaps is meant for sipping, not chugging, and the flavors are not masked by loads of sweetness as found in peppermint, peach, or cinnamon Schnapps—common suspects in the States. Similar to various eaux-de-vie, like France’s calvados (made from apples) and Eastern Europe’s slivovitz (made from plums), Schnaps is a distilled fruit brandy varying from 64-85 proof. Zane breathes fire after downing one of these puppies, and rightfully so. Schnaps puts hair on your chest and warms your belly—could be the reason locals herald it in Alpine mountain towns. Overall, Schnaps is enjoyed by many Austrian adults in a controlled setting, and is not to be confused with the debased American version mostly consumed by youth in a hazing-like, shot slinging frenzy.

History of Schnaps

Ancient Romans brought the art of fruit cultivation to the region of Austria. Fruit orchards thrived in the colder, Alpine states where grape vines could not grow. Ample sunshine, coupled with cold weather, makes for fruits high in acidity and aromas, but not necessarily fruit with sugary sweetness, as compared to a ripened peach from Georgia or South Carolina in the U.S. Most berries and fruit from the Alpine heights are not delicious in their natural, non-distilled state. History shows potable water led to illness, due to bacteria and unsanitary handling, and that people recognized medicinal qualities in spirits. Thus, fruits were often converted to alcohol.

Distillation technology became widespread in Austria in the 18th century with the invention of the copper pot still. During the harvest season, a communal mobile still would be transported by horse and cart among the households. The practice of Schnaps crafting was even endorsed by Marie Antoinette’s mother, Maria Theresa, the Holy Roman Empress and ruler of the Austria-Hungarian empire during the 1700s. The production of fruit brandies proved to be perfect for taxing and revenue generating for the government.

Types of Schnaps

Austrians drink a myriad of Schnaps flavors such as apricot, Williams pear, plum, cherry, raspberry, and wild cherry. Zane even sampled an Enzian Schnaps, known in English as Gentian spirit, which is made in the Alpine regions from the roots of gentian flowers. Two of Austria’s most famous producers of Schnaps are Hans Reisetbauer and Alois Goelles, who grow their own fruit versus purchasing it from countries abroad. They use more than 80 percent natural and organic fruits.

How to Serve Schnaps

Photograph by Inzane Entertainment/ Melissa Schilling

Traditionally, as soon as Austrians completed the Schnaps production process, the drink was bottled immediately. Families kept the bottles on hand to readily serve visiting guests or enjoy after a meal. Schnaps should be served in an eau de vie or grappa glass (Italians form of brandy), which are tulip-shaped glasses. A sherry glass serves Schnaps drinkers well, too. San Diego may possibly possess the only Schnaps bar in the US. A former LA restaurant, Bier Beisl, did frequently showcase food pairings with Schnaps, but the restaurant is now closed and slated to re-open in a new location. With such a disparity of Schnaps representation in the States, the best way to experience how the warming elixir passes ripe fruit tastes and aromas over your tongue is to buy a ticket to Austria. While you’re there, you can add a kick of caffeine at a genuine Viennese café.

ProTip: For the swanky, dare to pair a small glass of fruit flavored eau de vie with a pan-seared pork loin marinated in juniper, rosemary, and thyme served with roasted pear and braised red cabbage. With a red-fruit based Schnaps, like raspberry, finish the meal with a chocolate torte. Now that calls for a toast! Prost! As the Austrians would say it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chug Through Australia's Famed Wine Regions

Next stop on Chug: Sydney, Australia. Zane discovers the beer drinking culture in one of the world’s skimpiest clad beach towns, Bondi; and then chugs up the Chain Gang Trail to the town of Wollombi where the locals meet and bond over Jungle Juice, a drink made to make you quiver. Little does Zane realize, he is encountering a cultural shift that is redefining Aussies and what they drink.

Beer: Australia’s National Drink of Choice

Think of alcohol in Australia life and you most notably think of beer, “hard-earned thirst needs a big, cold beer.  Yet, the Australian national drink of choice is quickly becoming wine. Just 50 years ago, Aussies consumed twenty times more beer than wine, while today consumption has narrowed to only three times more beer than wine by volume. Wine might not have been the beverage of choice to the working class population, but wine was on the forefront during the early colonization days of Australia, and is making headlines again.

Coming of Age: Australia, A New World Wine Power

Photograph by Inzane Entertainment/ Melissa Schilling
Photograph by Inzane Entertainment/ Melissa Schilling
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, European powers colonized new regions, particularly the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. To European immigrants, these countries represented “lands of opportunity” where they could be free to buck traditions practiced in their homelands. These areas became known as the “New World,” making the mother ship of Europe, the “Old World.”
Ironically, Australia boasts the oldest exposed soils in the world, found out in the Great Western Plateau. It’s in this vast no-man’s land where Australian Aborigines set out on their own “walkabouts”—a term they use for wandering the bush when embarking upon a spiritual journey. If Zane were to take his own “walkabout” and chug his way from Sydney to the world’s most isolated outpost, Perth, it would take him four days and three nights, but he would see some amazing wine country along the way.

Australia’s Notable Wine Regions

First stop: Hunter Valley. On the outskirts of Sydney in the New South Wales territory, this viticultural area is home to Australia’s oldest vineyards founded in 1831. Best quality grape grown here is Semillon, a white grape that produces low-alcohol, long-lived dry whites. Critics dub this white, “Australia’s unique gift to the world.” Nothing beats its mouth-watering, racy acidity with lemon-lime aromas that develop into more toasty, honeyed characteristics with age. For sweet lovers, Semillon crafts some of the world’s most cherished dessert wines in Sauternes, France; but, it’s well worth trying the dry version of this chameleon grape.
Chugging right along to central Australia, the Indian-Pacific rail stops in Adelaide, situated in the middle of the South Australia territory. Just north of the metropolis sits Barossa Valley, the famed homeland of Australia’s king of grapes, Shiraz. Australia’s most famous wine is crafted here at Penfold’s, and is known the world over as Penfold’s Grange. As expected from Shiraz, this wine is unctuous, bold, rich, and age-worthy showing off notes of black pepper spice, eucalyptus undercurrents, and black jam bliss. Red wines from Barossa almost always can be pinpointed by their characteristic scent reminiscent of Vick’s Vapor rub. Eucalyptus trees neighboring the vineyards release a menthol-scented oil that settles on the grape skins and gets incorporated into the crushing vats. Sure makes for an unforgettable smell in wine that’s quite yummy.
Last stop is a surfer’s paradise and is the farthest outpost in the Western Territory. With world-wide notoriety for its surfing breaks, Perth is home to the Margaret River wine growing area, and is unique with its Mediterranean climate and constant cool sea breezes. No land mass sits between here and Antarctica. Because of this factor, some of the most sublime Chardonnays are produced here. They can in turn be sipped with fresh caught treasures from the sea, a food and wine match made in heaven. Wine juice fit for the Gods can be discovered at Leeuwin Estate. Their Art Series Chardonnay gives off flavors of ripe, golden pear skin, peach, savory toasted almonds, and white nectarine.
Here in the Land of Oz, something’s brewing, and it’s not the obvious. Wine is steadily overtaking the national rate of beer imbibing, and has been taking the world by storm. Let’s toast to that!
ProTip: Venture outside of the vast world of cheap Australian wine, usually sporting a cute animal on the label, and visit a privately owned wine shop. Soak up recommendations on the up and coming producers in Australia that put Yellow Tail to shame

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Power of the Four P's

The Power of the Four P's

Carol Klein's Wine Tasting, Saturday, November 15th

All women, all about food and wine, fun, and camaraderie. Best described with Four P's: passionate, poised, particular, and all around pleasant. The Four P's also happens to be the local's nickname for Ireland's Four Provinces Pub & Restaurant in Falls Church, the main watering hole for all the gals where gossip flies over booze bonding, frivolous fare, and all around fun times! Carol Klein invited me over to host a wine tasting and food pairing seminar, as her girl friends are passionate about wine and even more particular about their food! After providing me with a list of wines, I gave them a list of suggestions to pair with the wines. A number of the women pitched in and made delicious hors d'oeuvres. Below are some of the perfect pairs we discovered on that frigid, fall day.

Perfect Pairs to Share:

  • Endive with fresh chèvre, mandarin orange, and almond slices

Paired with E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2012. A blend of Viognier and Marsanne that truly shows off the Viognier. Aromas of peach, apricot, white flowers and a bit of spice. But truly, the magic here was the orange zest burst followed by smooth viscosity all melding with the Endive crunch and citrus punch from the oranges. Explosion of pit fruits and mouth watering freshness.

  • Salmon creme fraîche on cucumber with sprinkled dill

Paired with Trader Joe's Blanc de Blanc Brut and Ameztoi Getariako Txalolina 2011
The easy pair was the bubbles and the key ingredient: cucumber, which is light, refreshing and aromatic. The effervescence of the sparkling makes for a clean pairing, simply a wash that lightens the oiliness of the salmon, compliments the creaminess of the creme fraîche and swirls the cucumber aromatics around your mouth and dissolves the herb garnish.

The Ameztoi Getariako Txalolina was the unique pairing. I've never had this wine and I still cannot pronounce it! At first, I thought it was Greek, but it's from the Basque country in Northern Spain bordering the Mediterranean. You can taste the sea, plus it's a prickly wine that gives tactile sensations. I wouldn't drink it every day, but I can see it as a perfect spritzer sipper in the dog days of summer, and paired with cucumbers it's a match made in heaven for a palate cleanser, so no need for sorbet.

  • Tandoori Chicken with Cilantro Sauce and Sweet Chutney Sauce

Paired with Errazuriz Carmenere, Aconcagua Valley, Chile 2011. God this was good. Straight up awesome pairing. Carmenere always presents a challenge because of its variety of spices. Some people describe Carmenere's aromas to be an amalgamation of Indian spices like cardamom, turmeric, cumin. Others describe Carmenere's smell as fresh churned earth (not so appealing in my opinion), but definitely cool to gardeners who love digging in the dirt. Depending on the ripeness level and the talent of the winemaker and viticulturist, Carmenere can sing. Errazuriz is top of the line, and for $15-$17 on the shelf, it's a steal. So I suggested we use this for a festive, fall lineup during our afternoon soirée. Due to the Indian spices I've always picked up in Carmenere, I asked the hostess to bring an authentic Indian dish. She brought Tandoori chicken with the dipping sauces. The fruit in the Carmenere nicely complimented the spicy and sweet sauces, which in turn toned down the spiciness of the Carmenere.

  • Trader Joe's dark chocolate cocoa dusted truffles

Chocolate Box Sparkling Shiraz Australia NV
The Sparkling Shiraz proved to be pure decadence. The deep, rich folds of Shiraz juice, layered in
chocolate nuances, raspberry jam, and peppery spice, enveloped the bittersweet tones of the cocoa while the bubbles whipped up the entire magical concoction into swirls of chocolate ecstasy. Plenty of moaning was going on at this point, and only continued to part two:

  • Dark Caramel Chocolate with Sea Salt 

Castello di Amorosa La Fantasia Rosé Napa Valley 2009
Step into pure fantasy for sure with this wine. On the lighter side, but beautiful ruby red in color, slightly effervescent, syrupy sweet but not cloying with just a hint of salt crunch to add texture and accents to the chocolate flavor. Mmmm. Mmmm. Good.

 Thanks ladies, my Four P's crew, for such a wonderful afternoon!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thirsty for Adventure [And Cocktails]? New Series “Chug” Premieres Tonight!

Rum company owner, world traveler, and drink aficionado, Zane Lamprey, travels the globe to explore drinking customs and cultures by tossing back a few with the locals in the all-new series Chug. As he explores the libations of the region, Zane visits watering holes, breweries, distilleries, and wineries. In every episode, he journeys by train to the outskirts of the big cities, chugging off to get a taste of local spirits.
Tonight on the series premiere of Chug: Kuala Lumpur, Zane sets off for Malaysia to experience local libations and soak up soul vibes with interesting people.
Local man Deepak Gill brings Zane to a farm where they harvest a beverage called Toddy from the coconuts of a Toddy Palm tree.
Photograph by Inzane Entertainment/ Melissa Schilling

Malaysia’s Local Drinks: The Toddy & The Lancow

There's a raw beauty inherit in the jungle forests, and Zane quickly realizes he’s in for an experience you can’t get in the States. Zane’s drinking guide, Deep, explains Malaysia’s drinking culture is relatively new. Considered a way station for cultural influences from surrounding countries, which don’t all embrace drinking, Malaysia's drinking culture is growing and evolving. In the village of Banting, Zane finds a true native gem--a drink locals have dubbed the Toddy, named for the Toddy Palm tree from which it’s derived.
Its harvesting method, Zane discovers, is just as unique as its taste. The locals hang pots on the palm tree’s fruit stalks in order to collect the nectar. It’s basically sweet, sugary water until the wild yeast that’s floating in the air and in the pots converts the sugar into alcohol… and Voilà. Fermentation occurs right in the pot as it hangs on the tree. Zane reveals the spirit tastes like cereal and bugs, which happen to be floating around getting their buzz on too!
The drink mongers stop at a local Toddy shop that sells a more refined version of the beverage that’s filtered and chilled. The Toddy now tastes more like a bready version of carbonated coconut water with a reminiscent flavor of cereal and milk. It’s kind of like a beer with yeasty nuances and 5-6 % alcohol content. Zane learns a new word for “Cheers” here in Banting, “Ban Thai!” It translates to “Whack,” and could be for the local tradition of dropping a shot of Toddy into a Guinness. Sound familiar? It’s like an Irish car bomb, but with a Malaysian flair--whack!
While in Kuala Lumpur, Zane and the Chug crew visit the Batu Caves, a famed Malaysian site with magnificent limestone steps leading up to an ancient cave.
Photograph by Inzane Entertainment/ Melissa Schilling
The next stop for Zane is the Batu caves about twenty minutes outside K-L, which houses a Hindu shrine teeming with Macaques monkeys. Here, Zane discovers a Malaysian version of moonshine crafted by an almost forgotten people, the Ibans, who migrated from the Indonesia region to settle on the island of Borneo in western Malaysia. Locals today try to preserve the drinking tradition of the Ibans with the Lancow, named for the farm hut in which the illegal moonshine was crafted in order to hide their 35% ABV concoction from the authorities.

Cocktail Roundup: Popular Cocktails of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia offers a number of unique libations known to backpackers and tourists alike. The notorious “Bucket” cocktail, most notably consumed in The Bucket Bar at the last stop on the river tubing run in Vang Vieng in Laos, or on the gorgeous white sand beaches of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, is nothing but a child’s beach toy bucket chocked full of Sangsom, Mekong whiskey, vodka or gin, mixed with a version of Red Bull (dubbed M150), and a dash of fruit juice.
Vietnam boasts their beloved brew, Bia Hoi, and it’s a must try for thrifty travelers who dig paying only 50 cents for a liter of beer.
Found in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, Cobra & Scorpion Whiskey tops the libation charts as an aphrodisiac and cure-all-ailments-cocktail for only the most daring. Peppery and spicy in flavor, this whiskey instilled with either a real scorpion or cobra makes for what some might call a revolting drink, but certainly a fabulous souvenir!
Homemade Lao-Lao whiskey puts hair on the chest and is a favorite found in Laos.

Pro Tip: All hangovers can be treated with the delicious fruit shakes found in street stalls all throughout Southeast Asia. But, nothing beats the esoteric and unknown factor that Zane discovers in the jungles of Malaysia.

Don't miss the series premiere of Chug: Kuala Lumpur Monday at 10:30/9:30c for more escapades into the unknown libations of Malaysia.

Yum Seng!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NIAF 2014 Amarone Seminar

National Italian American Foundation 

Amarone Seminar and Gala 2014

NIAF meets annually and is an organization made up of quite astounding Italian Americans who have made tremendous successes of their lives. I was honored to sit as a panelist during their annual wine tasting, representing one of the most renowned Amarone families, Tommasi. The tasting itself was led by Philadelphia's food and wine writer, Brian Freedman. The dynamic panel consisted of wholesalers who rep honorable Amarone families. As we guided guests through a sampling of the Valpolicella region, we discussed the etymology of grape names, the history of winemaking, current statistics of Veneto production levels, and the differences between the 2009 and 2010 vintages of Amarone. The session ended with a tasting of prominent Amarones, such as Allegrini, Tommasi, Tedeschi, and Brigaldara.

Most memorable moment of the event: seeing Joe Piscopo live, listening to John Turturro speak of his family and life accomplishments, or drinking exceptional Amarone...I think I'll go for the latter. But the entire evening was a smashing success!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bastille Review

Bastille gets a face-lift

On an unsuspecting street corner along the northern fringe of Alexandria, locals escape to provincial France…without the exorbitant price tags of airfare and hotel or the hassle of exchanging dollars for Euros.  Providing fine French cuisine in a casual atmosphere, Bastille meets my criteria for restaurant essentials: it not only showcases the talents of two award-winning chefs, Christophe and Michelle Poteaux, but also an interior renovation and the acquisition of a top sommelier from DC’s Old Guard, James Beard award-winning beverage director Mark Slater, formerly of Citronelle in Georgetown.  Boasting inspirational culinary feats at an affordable price, in an atmosphere where you can easily slip in among the regulars, Bastille is what I look for when I decide a restaurant is a true favorite.

Slater’s thirty-plus years of experience helps amplify the culinary power of the husband and wife chef team—an advantage that young sommeliers just can’t top regardless of how many corks they’ve popped. Mark spins yarns of many great vintages with depths of knowledge that enrich your mental journey to provincial France and pique your palate’s imagination. On my very first trip to Bastille, I was seriously pleased with my experience and the food journey.

I recently eased onto a bar stool before realizing my visit coincided with Alexandria’s Restaurant Week. My spirits were immediately dampened, as I don’t tend to like the frenzy surrounding this turbulent week for most restaurants, but my hopes were immediately elevated as the first dish was placed before me.
My meal began with three charcuterie selections, which arrived neatly aligned: pork rillette, house-made bresaola seasoned with marjoram and oregano, and a goose liver pâté topped with Concord grape aspic. The first course could have sufficed as a full meal for me on a casual Monday, but it was Saturday and I ate a light lunch in anticipation of the splurge. When Slater made a point to ask me what my wine preferences were, I demurred: “I trust your judgment.” My trust was rightly placed.  His spot-on judgment created a not-so-ordinary pairing of a Côtes de Provence rosé that shimmered salmon-colored hues in the glass. Most people would raise a brow when pink wine sloshes in their glass next to robust charcuterie; but the pair couldn’t have been more perfect.  My taste buds loved the way strawberry accents framed the savory flavors of the aperitif. The charcuterie itself was delicately aromatic and herbaceous while giving way to sweetness from the rich and fatty meat, just calling for an elegant, fresh, smooth and equally flavored rosé.

The journey through rural France continued with a seemingly-traditional cassoulet consisting of white bean stew, slow-baked pork belly, and duck sausage layered with slices of pan-roasted duck breast, topped with a crispy slab of pork belly that was out of this world due to texture and melt-in-your-mouth flavor. What really sent my mouth soaring was the combination of duck, cassoulet and a robust Bordeaux red wine known as the “bad boy” in French slang. Slater poured “Mauvais Garçon,” a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. The value of this wine speaks volumes of Slater’s talents to source true gems for less, as the pedigree on this regular Bordeaux AOC couldn’t be higher coming from the notorious garagiste, or small-batch wine maker, Jean-Luc Thunevin.

Ending in sweetness, I enjoyed Valrohna pot de crème with orange compote and candied cranberries, paired with Maydie ruby port. The dessert was balanced by citrus notes folded into chocolate decadence; therefore, it needed a wine laced with sweetness and aromatic persistence to stand up to the slight bitterness and aromas of high-quality chocolate. Not ready to end my culinary vacation, I dared to forge on and order a cheese board offering three artisanal selections of a bleu, a triple-crème, and a semi-hard cheese paired with a white burgundy (aka chardonnay). Wow! I was in bliss, because the cheeses were all so smooth and rich and in need of a wine that could contrast the decadence with acidic crispness and minerality while simultaneously presenting a smooth, full-bodied, rich wine.

I departed Bastille in high spirits (and, thankfully, not the designated driver), cloaked in warmth from a heart-warming evening made of the best ingredients, friendly staff, bistro-style dining, and delicious wine. Bastille, you’re an exception in a sea of mediocrity and over-priced indulgences. I’ll be back and ready to sample more of your exquisite offerings.