Warm Summer Days with a Cool Italian Wine

June 29, 2012
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By Nicholas Harary

It’s June. Sunny beach days, water sports and grills are lighting up all over New Jersey. Early summer produce is hitting our kitchen and we’ve been on the receiving end of some incredible asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, ramps, morel mushrooms, English peas and stinging nettles. Pairing these fresh ingredients with summer wines is easy. The real challenge is finding inspiration for new dishes.

Not too long ago, a regular customer graciously gave me a collection of Time Life ethnic cookbooks from the ‘60s. This customer’s mother had just passed away and he found them in her attic. I excitedly showed them to my guys in the kitchen and we had a great time giggling about the style of the food from that era.

As we went through the books, I thought it would be a great idea to honor this woman by picking out a recipe, modernizing it a bit and then featuring it in Bar N. My British Chef de Cuisine Nicholas Wilkins, aka “Wilkins,” jumped at the opportunity once he got a look at the Cooking of the British Isles edition.

Naturally, Wilkins’ first choice was fish and chips. I think that’s all they really eat over there. If you ever receive an invite to one of our staff meals when Wilkins is making his grandmother’s recipe for fish and chips, absolutely, do not turn it down. He usually makes it July 4; he has a very ironic, British sense of humor.

Anyway, I argued for something that might fit a bit more into what we do here at the restaurant, so we compromised on a poached haddock in a brose sauce. A classic brose sauce includes oatmeal and cream but Wilkins eliminated the oatmeal, brightening the sauce with a hard English cider. With our twist, the dish became Poached Haddock with a Blue Bay Mussel Brose, Lemon Curd Puree and Baby Fennel. It’s a great dish, really fresh, perfect for summer. Wilkins argued for pairing it with grog but I had something a little better.

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Domenico Almondo is the master of a rare grape variety, Arneis, in the tiny hamlet of Roero, in the northwestern corner of Italy. His single vineyard, Bricco delle Ciligie, is a Grand-Cru spot in my book. The 2011 offering is one of the great white wines of Italy, wildly aromatic, with lush, peach fruit and a mineral finish. In the restaurant, we pair it as we would with great white Burgundy and it’s a perfect match with our poached haddock. Aside from working perfectly with our haddock dish, Arneis is a great choice for a summer white, flat out delicious by itself as an aperitif or a terrific complement to grilled shrimp or steamed lobster. Try it … you won’t be disappointed.

In 2011, Restaurant Nicholas launched its Nicholas Wines program. Each month, Chef Nicholas Harary selects one to two wines to sell on www.restaurantnicholas.com. Wines can be ordered by the bottle and/or case and shipped or picked up at the restaurant.

Poached Haddock Summer 2012

Mussel Brose:
2 cups hard cider
3 dozen mussels
1 cup leeks
1 cup celery root
1 cup onions
3 sprigs parsley
2 cups cream
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil


1. Sweat off celery root, onions, leeks and parsley in olive oil.
2. Add mussels and sauté.
3. Add hard cider.
4. Cover and shake every so often.
5. Simmer covered for 5 – 10 minutes.
6. Strain sauce and reserve mussels.
7. Add cream to sauce base and bring to a simmer.
8. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
9. Reserve for service.
10. Place in thermo whip siphon.
11. Add 2 – 3 nitrous oxide charges.
12. Keep warm for service.

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Baby fennel:
Baby fennel
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Sugar

1. Place all ingredients in Cryovac bag.
2. Sous vide at 185 degrees for 10 minutes.
3. Place in ice bath and reserve for service.

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