By Nicholas Harary
As parents, we are always looking for the “perfect” thing to do with the kids. Sometimes, I don’t know why we bother.
They seem to have fun with the most ordinary household items. I’ve seen a cardboard box and wooden spoon hold their attention longer than half the Christmas toys they received last year. But still, as parents, we want to fill their time with exciting events.
This summer, Melissa and I agreed to do something different every Sunday regardless of the situation.
A few Sundays ago, we decided to go to the Summernationals at Raceway Park, something I knew Nicholas would be psyched about. For Juliana, I wasn’t so sure. As we were getting ready to go, we discovered that I screwed up the dates; the Summernationals were the week before. We were headed to see the bracket races. I wasn’t sure what that was but, no big deal, there would be fast cars and a lot of noise. That was good for two thumbs up from Nicholas.
We arrived to find an empty parking lot. I thought we must be early. Getting to the track, I looked up at the stands and saw four people. Gulp. Bracket races must be practice for the C-team drivers. I had a vision of packed stands, tons of action, roaring engines, maybe a crowd wave or two, instead we had the drone of crickets and the occasional backfire of a race car way past its prime.
I turned to Nicholas, on the verge of saying, “Want to go to the beach?” when I saw an ear-to-ear smile. He pointed to the staging area where a driver on the track was motioning to us to come down to check out the cars. Even Juliana, who wasn’t crazy about this idea to begin with, looked excited. The kids took off and I felt a whole lot better about the rest of the day.
The kids got to sit in the cars, watch the races from the closest vantage point possible and could not have had more fun. It might not have been the most “special” day in Raceway Park’s history but it certainly was for our family. To all the parents out there that might be looking for something to do on a lazy summer day, check out the bracket races!
Too much of the wine business is about “special” wines. To me, I’d rather drink a $15 wine that matches perfectly with whatever we cook and the friends that we share it with than drink something that a critic gave a zillion points.
I can’t tell you how many people travel to Europe and then come home and tell me how great the “house” wine was. Makes sense – wine stored in perfect condition, from a local farm right down the road, served with local cuisine while you are relaxed, has a pretty good chance of being delicious. I think that’s the recipe for success in sourcing wine and it’s our No. 1 goal with Nicholas Wines. Wine shipped, stored and delivered at perfect temps so it tastes in Red Bank just as it does wherever it was made. Wine made by small family farms, more often than not, farmed organically, without pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Lastly, the wine should be great with food. When we hit all of these criteria, no matter how humble the price may be, wine can be great.
Château Le Grand Verdus is a great choice for a “house” wine. It’s got a killer nose, filled with aromas of white flowers, pear and citrus fruit. The fruit is generous, bright and fresh, with a zippy finish that makes it perfect for summer fluke, scallops, grilled shrimp or roasted poultry. Perfect all summer long, by the pool or on your deck.
Regular price, $19, Nicholas Wines price, $17 or $180 ($15 a bottle on 12-bottle cases).
Nicholas Harary is the owner and executive chef at restaurant Nicholas in Middletown.
In 2011, Restaurant Nicholas launched its Nicholas Wines program. Each month, Nicholas Harary selects one to two wines to sell in the online store (www.restaurantnicholas.com). Chef Harary’s long- lasting, personal relationships with winemakers and his commitment to storing wine at 56 degrees from Day One equates to unique access, value and quality for Nicholas Wines customers. Wines can be ordered by the bottle and/or case and shipped or picked up at the restaurant.