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Savor the Flavor with Jim White, The Wining and Dining Guy February 3, 2011

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Gung Hay Fat Choy

Easy for you to say! Happens to be “happy new year” in Cantonese.  At least that’s the way I learned it many years ago in San Francisco.  There are, of course, numerous ways to express this greeting, owing to the countless Chinese dialects.  But, the outcome is the same:  welcome to the year of the rabbit!  More than a billion people will celebrate “the metal rabbit”, actually, according to astrology.com (and they should know).  Quoth the rabbit:  “2011 is projected to bring peace, tranquility and diplomacy. However, the Metal element gives the rabbit a competitive, aggressive, cold and sometimes insensitive side. This is the first Year of the Metal Rabbit since 1951!” Thank you astrology.com, and quoth the rabbit “nevermore”, Mr.  Poe.  Now, what’s this have to do with wine and food you say?  Glad you asked.  We found a great recipe for Lettuce Wraps with Duck (it would have been too macabre to offer you a recipe for, say, rabbit fricassee or rabbit coq au vin), so enjoy the lettuce wraps with a clear conscience and a nice Gewurztraminer. I know, most people pair duck with Pinot Noir, but when you read the recipe which follows, I think you’ll agree that the spicy Asian dish is begging for this aromatic grape.  It’s one of the only wines that works well with Asian cuisine. Read on for the tasty recipe and to learn more about “The Year of the Rabbit”, and Happy New Year!

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Savor the Flavor with Jim White, “The Wining and Dining Guy” July 22, 2010

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Fond farewell to Aurora with a toast from Alsace

We’ve told you Chef Avner Samuel is closing Aurora at the end of July.  It’s the usual drill:  “the economy, stupid.”  Truth be told, after dining there this week with the delightful heir to the Alsatian wine estate Helfrich Winery, Aurora is too damned expensive.  No wonder it could not sustain in a down economy.  With most appetizers around $20 to $25, and entrées closing in on $60, who but Mark Cuban could afford to eat there regularly?  And, it’s not Mark’s style anyway.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Avner Samuel is a GIFTED chef.  His cuisine is certainly worth any price he wants to put on it.  Lord knows, the ingredients he uses are top notch,  and therefore, very costly.  But in the spirit of Evita, don’t cry for Avner DFW! He’s had a great run with Aurora and we salute him for the culinary innovation, and for creating a masterpiece.  Now, having said all that, his wife Celeste gave us some very good news as we were coming into the restaurant for what will be our farewell dinner at Aurora (more on that in a second):  She and Avner will take a bit of time off when the Aurora doors close, and start work on a NEW concept.  They have something casual in mind (simpler fare, lower prices).  And, more good news?  If you know where Aurora is, you won’t have to hunt for them.  They plan to keep the same space on Oak Lawn and EXPAND.  They will take over the space next to them.  More tables and a lower price point should be a boon to their business.  Let’s hope so.  We don’t want a chef as talented as Avner doing catering jobs.  They promised to let us know so we can alert you when the concept is finalized and they are ready to open.  Stay tuned.

The “last supper”,  as a few of us characterized our meal at Aurora this week, was to “taste and see” (keeping with the theme and borrowing from Psalms) great Alsatian wines from Helfrich and meet lovely winery principal Anne-Laure Helfrich.  The 23 year old gives wine drinking millennials a good name.  She is smart as a whip and knows her product.  It doesn’t hurt that she reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in “Daddy Longlegs”.  Her family’s claim to fame is Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, of course.  You’ll find the wines very approachable and affordable.  Their everyday wines are priced around $15, and the divine grand crus retail for around $25.  Alas, since you couldn’t join us for dinner at Aurora, here are some photo highlights.  a votre santé and bon appétit!

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