Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day One Seventy Six - A trip to the Southern Hemisphere

Who knew you could get to the Southern Hemisphere without leaving Manhattan, right? Well folks your trip to South Africa is greatly shortened by going to the South African wine bar, Xai Xai on 51st Street between 8th and 9th avenues where I went with a few friends this evening.

Known for its strictly South African wine list and a selection of South African dishes mixed in with the  more generic wine bar staples, it's a fun place to go with a group of girl friends or with that special someone.

This evening we split  a bottle of South African Sauvignon Blanc, Beyond to be precise -- perfect for this hot humid day, full of acidity with a crisp and light floral bouquet. I find that new world Sauvignon Blancs tend to be lighter and easier drinking than their more mature developed old world cousins -- each with a perfect place and time. Tonight, this Sauvignon Blanc was just the ticket!

As it was early and the idea of eating heavier more substantial foods did not appeal we did not unfortunately get very adventurous with their food. However the one time I did, everything was fantastic. Tonight we stuck with cheese, nuts, and olives. Unfortunately their cheese selection was not very extensive which isn't overly surprising but they had a few delish cheeses that went perfectly with the wine.

For our cheeses we had:

1. Humboldt Fog Goat's Cheese - An aged goat's milk cheese with a vegetable ash line through the center and an exterior coating under its bloomy rind. Lactic, chalky, creamy, fresh and even a bit citrusy, this is a cheese that shows you American artisanal cheesemaking has made it! This baby gives the Loire Valley goat cheeses a run for its money. Perfect with the wine we ordered, you couldn't have asked for a better pairing!

2. Jasper Hill's Blue - A fantastic medium bodied piquant cow's milk blue cheese with just the right amount of salt for such a steamy sweaty day. Perfect with a few walnuts on a nice piece of baguette with this wine. Another great new world meets new world pairing here.

3. A lightly smoked Dutch Gouda - Buttery, butterscotchy, with a hint of caramel, spice, and smoke this was a nice semi firm cheese that served as a great counterpart to the two other cheeses.

An easy and fun happy hour with friends on a lovely hot summer eve. I recommend checking out Xai Xai if you haven't been and definitely be more gastronomically adventurous if you're up for it and indulge in some of the regional offerings.

Xai Xai
369 West 51st Street
NYC 10019

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