California Dreaming: The Sequel

We were originally planning to head to Blackhawk this week, but two very exciting transactions that we will announce shortly will keep us in New York City for the next two weeks. While we await the time when we can make these announcements, I thought I'd share some excellent diversions to tide everyone over as summer gets under way.

Within the past week, Mary Claire and I have paid two visits to what we lovingly refer to as my cousin's cafe, Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto, which is the well-known Tuscan chef Cesare Casella's latest creation. It is located on the Upper West Side of New York City (above Columbus Circle, on Amsterdam Avenue near 73rd Street). I knew we would be back this weekend, after having brunch last Sunday and Mary Claire telling Cesare that his caponata (cooked vegetable salad, with the primary ingredient being aubergine) was the best she had ever tasted. He has taken a small plates approach, which is taking hold across the country, particularly in wine bars, and is very attractive in the current economic climate. I trust that we will make one or two more visits before we head west. www.salumeriarosi.com

Tonight, I look forward to watching Phil Jackson coach the Lakers to his 10th NBA championship. With this win, he will stand alone. He has been tied at 9 with the legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach. Looking back on Jackson's record with the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan and now with the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, it is clear that he knows how to put together a winning team with the chemistry necessary to carry them all the way to the pinnacle of success. I am confident that this record will stand for many years.

If you make it west to Sonoma County this summer and are looking to have a spectacular dining experience, I strongly recommend that you make a reservation, well in advance, at Cyrus in downtown Healdsburg, just off the square. Their champagne and caviar cart to start the meal is exquisite. www.cyrusrestaurant.com

For wines I am going to focus on the much-maligned chardonnay and recommend several special wineries that consistently produce outstanding chardonnays.

Aubert: I have referenced Mark Aubert previously with regards to his outstanding Pinot Noir wines. His chardonnay releases are my personal favorites. www.aubertwines.com

Copain: With a slight detour from the chardonnays listed, if you are looking for something very different for a summer day, I recommend Wells Guthrie's Tous Ensemble Rose, which is dry and crisp. www.copainwines.com

Martinelli: Their winemaker/wine consultant, the legendary Helen Turley, consistently releases outstanding unfiltered chardonnays from several vineyards. www.martinelliwinery.com

Rochioli: This Sonoma-based winery consistently produces excellent chardonnays and sauvignon blancs. www.rochioliwinery.com

Williams Selyem: This legendary winery is known primarily for its pinot noir releases and has a huge fan base. While I continue to enjoy their pinot noirs, I am always intrigued by their chardonnay releases, which are very limited but are truly outstanding. www.williamsselyem.com

Starting on Thursday we will have golf's U.S. Open Championship to focus on, with its return to the Bethpage Black Course on Long Island. Is Tiger Woods back in full force to defend his amazing '08 championship, and will he once again tame Bethpage Black as he did in '02? Will Phil Mickelson, a crowd favorite in New York, challenge him or will we see one of the younger pros in their 20's make their move? Regardless of who triumphs, it will hold our attention as only a fabled major golf championship can.

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