When first visiting Belly Wine Bar, I relized that I would have to bring the other three Wineaux here. However, rounding up the gang of four – Eleni, Katrin, Rodney and myself – is not a simple task since we’ve all dispersed – with the exception of myself – from the Hub. Yet, the holidays often provide the impetus for a gathering and this was the case when we all met up at Boston’s newest wine bar for an evening of face-to-face catching up.
We began the evening with oysters accompanied by a round of the “After Ada” cocktail built upon gin and Kümmel – the Kümmel in the mix playing perfectly with the wonderfully briny and meaty bivalves. From that tasty beginning, we ventured forth to a selection of excellent house-made charcuterie and salumi. And not to disregard our good health, we included an excellent arugula, pistachio and anchovy vinaigrette salad. Of course, the wine flowed. Belly is characterized by a wonderfully offbeat and intelligent wine list: the wines featured here won’t likely be found elsewhere. Katrin and myself enjoyed various lighter reds served perfectly chilled while Rodney persued a flight of (sluttish) Barberas. Of couse, we had to have cheese. Cheese at Belly is treated with respectful propriety; cheeses are displayed under cheese bells at one end of the room – not refrigerated – and served correctly at room temperature. We finished the evening with a noteworthy digestif – a mix of Santa Maria al Monte, both Amontillado and Pedro Jimenez Sherries, Cocchi Vermouth di Tocino, Herbsaint and both orange and molé bitters. We were suitably prepared for the freezing rain that was now falling outside. It had been a most enjoyable evening.
Two highlights/revelations of the evening –
- Selun – This Swiss stinker, i.e. a washed rind cheese, was new to me and representative of the “new” cheeses coming from Switzerland. Where once Swiss cheese making focused on traditional cheeses, young cheese makers are expanding their repertoires. Made of thermalized cow’s milk, the cheese was wonderfully odiferous, meaty and buttery.
- 2011 Broc Cellars “Valdiguié”– Valdiguié – with a somewhat murky provenance – is native to Languedoc-Rousillon In California, it was known as “Napa Gamay”. Though much of the original Cali plantings were torn up and replaced with the more lucrative varieties, enough remains for adventurous winemakers to give it a go. This wine – from the urban winemaker Brockaway – undergoes carbonic maceration with minimal intervention. The result is a fruitful wine with low alcohol and mild tannins: perfect to be served lightly chilled.
Of course, our gathering at Belly wouldn’t have been so memorable without the stellar staff there. Our server was smart, attentive and well-versed in all aspects of the menu. The evening was made even more special by the gracious and generous Fannie Katz, General Manager of the bar. We thank her for authentic hospitality.
So if you’re tired of overworked concepts and cookie cutter establishments, a visit to Belly is definitely in order.
One Kendall Square Cambridge MA