Gilmore’s… Adieu

There’s been a lot of hubbub about the closing of Gilmore’s in West Chester this week. The restaurant was once considered the class of the western suburbs by many diners, so its closing is probably the Main Line equivalent of Le Bec Fin closing (and yes, Peter Gilmore worked at LBF for many years). The thing that so many others seem to be afraid to say, however, is that it was past due. Gilmore’s was a dinosaur from another era, and was no longer a relevant player in the local restaurant scene.

Reading between the lines of Peter Gilmore’s comments after the news came out, it’s obvious that the restaurant’s financial results back up this assertion. Though they had a reputation for being a tough reservation, sellouts were far less common over the past few years. Gilmore tried gimmicks like adding small plates, and offering a discounted mid-week prix fix menu to get more people in the door, but nothing could save the business.

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The Great Pesto Challenge

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Pesto. It’s one of the great summer treats. Fresh, pungent basil from the garden, mixed with garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and a liberal amount of EVOO. Traditionally, of course, it’s used as a pasta sauce, but it also works great on grilled chicken or fish, swirled in dipping oil for bread, as a sandwich spread, and surely many other creative methods.

Nowadays, of course, one doesn’t need a herb garden to get pesto. It’s available in the supermarket year-round, both in the uninspiring jarred form as well as a somewhat better fresh format. In addition, we’re lucky enough to be blessed with quite a few excellent Italian specialty stores in this area, that almost always offer up their own fresh versions. Pondering this one day, I wondered: who makes the best? A taste test was the obvious and inevitable result.

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PLCB Pick: Terranoble Carmenere Gran Reserva 2009

terranoble-carmenere-gran-riserva-2009

I love wines with great stories. Does a great story change what is in the glass? No, of course not. But it can change how you perceive what’s in the glass, just how who you are with, where you are, or what you are celebrating can change your perceptions.

The story of Carmenere is a particularly interesting one. One of the “original six” Bordeaux grapes (from Médoc specifically, considered by some to be a Cab clone), it all but died out after the double-whammy of the European Phylloxera plague in 1867 and a susceptibility to coulure, a condition where grapes fail to thrive after a particularly rainy, wet season.

In fact, the grape was widely considered to be extinct until the 1990s, when it was discovered in Chile. It turns out that cuttings of the plant were imported to to Chile in the 1800s, but it was mistaken for Merlot. In 1994, however, a French oenologist found otherwise, showing conclusively that it was indeed Carmenere.

Now, Chile has embraced the grape as its very own, especially considering the fact that other big wines in Chile: Cabernet, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc. are not indigenous to the country.Though Carmenere is grown in small quantities in Italy, the US and France, Chile is leading the way with this particular varietal.

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Local Farmers Markets

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The big news on the Farmers Market front this spring was the announcement that a new, year-round, indoor market will be opening sometime soon in the former Borders Bookstore in Rosemont. Building owner Steve Bajus expects 25 to 30 vendors, open Thursday-Saturday, plus some additional vendors that’ll be open six days a week. For more details, check out coverage on Patch and in Main Line Media News. If you’re interested in joining the market, more info is available at Bajus’ site.

The developers suggest that a fall opening is possible for the Rosemont Farmer’s Market, but keep in mind that “possible” in developer-speak typically means “improbable”. (I’d bet on early 2013.)

In the meantime, here’s a listing of currently open local Farmers Markets:

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Vetri

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Mario Batali dubbed it the best Italian restaurant on the East Coast. Alan Richman said it was the best Italian restaurant in the US. Gourmet included it in their top 50 in the country. Craig LeBan gave it 4 bells and called it “our very best”. Needless to say, Vetri doesn’t need a publication like this one to confirm it’s greatness. It’s great. But it is also very, very expensive. The only dining option, every day, is the $135 fixed-price tasting menu. If you want to pair wines with each course, that’s another $90. Unless you’re a bonafide blue blood Main Liner, this isn’t a casual night out.

So, the real question here is not whether it is great, but whether it is worth it. $135, of course, affects everyone differently. But, based on one experience, the opinion here is that, if you can swing it, it is worth going at least once, because this is one of the most unique and special dining experiences in the area.

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