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Halleck Blog

Ross Halleck
March 30, 2016 | Ross Halleck

Cooking With Mike at the Gramercy Tavern

When I'm in New York, I have to pinch myself to see if I'm not dreaming. There is no city in the world that I find as hospitable, culturally rich, exciting, fun, or has as good of dining.

We've been privileged to be served by Thomas Keller at Per se with 24 members of our Inner Circle. And equally fortunate to dine at my favorite Jewish haunt, 2nd Avenue Deli. And everything in between. Whether it's Keens, Grand Central Oyster Bar, Del Friscos, Blue Hill, The Union League Club, Eleven Madison Park, The Norwood, The Tennis and Racquet Club, The Penn Club, Estiatorio Milos, The Trustees Dining Room of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or any spot we stumble into at Eataly, there is nothing like the quality of food, service and ambiance of NYC.

With all these to choose from, time and time again we plan our trip around Gramercy Tavern and the extraordinary gifts of Mike Anthony, the Executive Chef.

Mike grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from Indiana University with degrees in Business, French, and Japanese. We both hale from the Midwest.  He embarked on his culinary career in Tokyo, Japan, falling in love with the simple, seasonal Japanese approach to food. 

Mike moved to France in 1992, working in several renowned kitchens.  He returned to the United States five years later, working first at Restaurant Daniel and then as the Chef de Cuisine at March Restaurant.  Subsequently, Mike joined the team of Blue Hill as co-Chef Blue Hill NY in Manhattan and later as the Executive Chef at Blue Hill Stone Barns.

In 2006 Mike took the position of Executive Chef at Gramercy Tavern. In this role he leads the restaurant into its next chapter while staying true to its original vision: to honor the rich tradition of American cooking and bring guests together in a convivial spirit of community to enjoy exceptional, seasonal food. 

Passionate about using ingredients that can be traced to their sources, Mike forges strong ties between the restaurant and local farmers, very much like we do in California with our food and grape growers. He and his staff visit local farms.  Mike also invites outstanding local producers to Gramercy Taver.  The menus highlight these relationships and Mike’s farm-fresh, thoughtful cuisine.

Mike was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs” and was also lauded in Bon Appetit’s “Next Generation”.  Under Mike’s leadership, Blue Hill at Stone Barns received a three-star review in The New York Times, as well as a James Beard Foundation nomination for “Best New Restaurant” in 2005.  The New York Times awarded Gramercy Tavern its second three-star review, and Time Out New York declared Mike “Best New Chef” in New York City.  In 2008, Gramercy Tavern earned the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Restaurant.”  In 2011, he was named Chef-Partner of Gramercy Tavern. In 2012, Michael won the James Beard Award for “Best Chef in New York City” and in 2015, won the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Chef in America.” Mike is also the author of The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook  and V is for Vegetables.

I enjoyed the Arctic Char on my visit to Gramercy Tavern with my son, Connor, when he entered NYU. We paired it with our Three Sons Cuvee and it blew my socks off. I think it would go also particularly well with our Sonoma Coast Pinots due to their brightness and minerality. 

Arctic Char with New Potatoes, Apples and Endive

Serve with Three Sons, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Yields: 4 portions

4 four ounce portions artic char, skin on

4 small white new potatoes

4 small purple Peruvian potatoes

1 honeycrisp apple, ½ small diced, ½ julienne

½ cup celery, small dice

1 Tbsp pickled mustard seed (recipe to follow)

1 head endive, julienne

½ bunch chives, minced

Olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, to taste

For the potato salad:

1.    Boil white and purple potatoes in salted water until tender. 
2.    Peel the potatoes and cut into a medium dice.
3.    Mix the potatoes with diced apple, celery, pickled mustard seeds, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

For the artic char:

1.    Season artic char filets with salt, pepper, and a light layer of olive oil. Place filets skin side down on a hot grill. Cook for 4 minutes on each size for medium rare.

To serve:

1.    In a bowl, mix the endive with minced chives and julienne apple. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
2.    On each plate, place artic char on top of room temperature potato salad. Top artic char filets with endive salad.

For the pickled mustard seed:
Yields 1 C

1 cup rice wine vinegar                

1 cup sugar                        

1 cup water    

1 tsp salt                    

1 cup mustard seeds    

1.    Bring all ingredients to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes. Let cool at room temperature.    


Time Posted: Mar 30, 2016 at 10:08 PM
Ross Halleck
March 14, 2016 | Ross Halleck

Caring for an Adult

It feels like yesterday when we planted Halleck Vineyard. Jennifer was combing the Yellow Pages looking for rootstock, stumbling across a single-line listing for “John Caldwell” under “Nurseries”. This was amongst ads hawking all manner of services and products. Previous calls came up empty. There was a dearth of Pinot Noir rootstock available in 1991-92.

John answered the phone and spoke to Jennifer about our location and specific site. He was an enthusiast and guided us to some new Pinot Noir clones from Dijon, France: 777, 667 and 115. We’d never heard of them. But we hadn’t heard of anything. This was our first foray into agriculture.

There’s a book on our coffee table written by Judy Reynolds called “Once Upon a Vine: Stories of California’s Artisan Wineries”. It describes us as “Pioneers”. This suggests foresight. In truth, we embarked on this expedition blind, simply pursuing a passion for Pinot and a relatively inexpensive way to landscape our newly acquired property. 

As they say, “the rest is history”. We met Greg Lafollette through our son’s school. He offered to purchase our fruit. We won the prestigious Pinot Noir Summit in 2002 as Judges Choice, establishing Halleck Vineyard as the #1 Pinot noir in the US. It was the first wine produced from this spot. Our area has filled with viticulture, providing ample selection to complement our small Estate Grown Pinot Noir and build a cult following.

23 years have passed. Our vineyard has continued to mature, flourish, and display a growing complexity. The depth of fruit is nowhere more apparent than in our most recent 2012 vintage. This will be sold out this month. But last year we tasted all vintages since 2001 of our Estate Grown and all were stellar. The 2001 still demonstrates its wondrous heritage. Read the tasting notes of our library wines.

As we move into our 18th vintage, the vineyard is an adult. This suggests shifts in care.

Cordon PruningWe recently pruned, taking note of the vigor of each plant. We’re striving for quadrilateral pruning. As a Cane-Pruned vineyard, we can manage the fruit production of each vine more directly than with a Cordon-Pruned vineyard (see photo to right). We cut the canes back right to the trunk, giving our property a denuded appearance.  Each vine “whispers” what it wants (see below): 

• A vigorous vine declares, “four canes” (quadrilateral)

• Another states, “three canes” (trilateral)

• And a third requests, “two canes, please” (bilateral)

These are judgement calls and overall vineyard production and quality are impacted.

In response, we’re adding a new system to deliver nutrients through irrigation to the vineyard . It will include a tank for introducing the organic supplements and a pump for distribution. 

To determine the exact additives, in a few weeks, we’ll take soil samples from different depths to provide insight into condition and content. Further, we’ll cut early leaves for a petiole analysis, giving us a view to the health and well being of the plants. From these perspectives, laboratory results will inform us what we can feed our family. We strive to meet their craving and maintain the quality and lusciousness of our Halleck Vineyard Estate Grown, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir that we all love.

Time Posted: Mar 14, 2016 at 11:19 AM
Ross Halleck
March 10, 2016 | Ross Halleck

Curried Quinoa and Salmon: Austin Perkins from Nick's Cove

We are privileged to partner with the finest chefs in the world. Thomas Keller of Per Se and The French Laundry, Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, Cat Kora, and Michael Psilakis, to name a few. 

We're featuring dishes from many of our friends on a monthly basis with recipes and stories, like Austin Perkins from Nick's Cove, my local favorite. 

He grew up in our neighborhood enjoying the coast, its natural beauty and abundant farm produce. Austin likes to keep it simple and let the natural flavor of each ingredient do the talking.

He began at Nick's Cove Oyster Bar and Cottages in 2008 and he contributed to some our first vintner dinners. He took the helm at Nick's Cove in 2011 as Executive Chef, creating the finest seasonal, sustainable California cuisine from the area's abundant farms in Marin and Sonoma Counties, including fresh seafood and oysters from Tomales Bay.

Austin has built relationships with local farmers, like ourselves, sourcing ingredients for the menu. Dishes change seasonally as he creates special experiences and events to highlight the bounty of the area.

The dish we've come to love, the Curried Quinoa with Fresh Salmon and Aioli, he developed to pair with our Dry Gewurztraminer in his early days at Nick's. We use it to highlight the spicy and complementary fruity notes of this amazing wine.

Curried Quinoa with Fresh Salmon and Aioli


Flank of salmon (think 8 slices, 1 inch wide to lay on top of quinoa in large martini glasses)
1 Cup Quinoa
1/2 tsp. Salt
4 shallots
small bunch green onions
small bunch of cilantro
cinnamon stick
1 med. jalepeno
Trader Joes curry powder (or create with equal parts Cumin, Corriander, Cardomom, Cumin and double Tumeric, with cayenne to taste)
Curry aioli (good mayo)



Place salmon on small baking sheet covered in ample aluminum foil coated lightly with olive oil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and wrap in excess aluminum foil to finish cooking as it cools to warm or room temperature. Delicately flip salmon and remove the skin. Slice to desired size.


Cook as rice (1 1/2 cups water: 1 cup quinoa); boil water with salt, 2 tsp. of curry powder, and a cinnamon stick.  Add quinoa, simmer covered for about 15 mins.  Cool, drizzle with a little olive oil. Add more curry and salt to taste. Can take a good strong curry flavor.
Sauté chopped shallots and chopped jalepeno, add a little white wine when browning starts.  
Fold this into the quinoa
Chop up fresh cilantro and green onions (about 1/3-1/2 cup each) 
Fold this into the quinoa 
Salt to taste


Select organic mayo made from olive oil. Just mix in curry powder to a strong flavor and deep mustard color. Add pinches of cayenne to taste.


Place Quinoa in martini glass. Lay slice of salmon on top. Dollop aioli on top of the salmon.

PERFECT Pairing!

2016 Halleck Vineyard, Saralee's Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Dry Gewurztraminer

Time Posted: Mar 10, 2016 at 12:09 PM