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Week of June 10, 2002

the underground gourmet
Sardinian Din
Entering D.O.C. Wine Bar, a charming new Williamsburg enoteca with a Sardinian slant, can be a bit discombobulating, like being last to arrive at a particularly lively party, many drinks behind the crowd, with as much of a chance of catching up as Saudi Arabia has of winning the World Cup. Plus, nearly everyone is speaking Italian — very loudly — not to mention hugging and chain-toasting for indecipherable reasons. If you don't speak the language, your best bet is to play the casual observer, as we did late one recent night, contemplating the rustic décor and the straw-bottomed Chianti-bottle vases on each farmhouse table, then hunker down over a delicious pressed panino on crusty Sullivan Street ciabatta or a wooden tray of cured meats and the crispy thin Sardinian flatbread called carta da musica ("sheet-music paper") from the snacky menu. Try a Sardinian pairing of a piquant honey-drizzled sheep's-milk cheese (fiore di Sardegna) with a native red Cannonau served in a two-ounce glass called a marzianetto, and listen to co-owner Claudio Coronas rhapsodize about the simple pleasures of Sardinian wines, traditionally known for their high alcohol content: "In Sardinia," Coronas says, "wine is not expensive and flows like Coca-Cola. And we drink like this, from small glasses, but we drink a lot of them." Which explains, in turn, a lot about D.O.C. — ROB PATRONITE
D.O.C. Wine Bar
83 North 7th Street, Brooklyn


best of the week
Aquavit's Herring Week, June 10 to June 15.
It may sound like a Monty Python sketch, but it's a bit tastier. For five days, Aquavit executive chef Marcus Samuelsson celebrates Sweden's love of herring with a buffet that incorporates those tasty white fish in nearly everything except the apple sorbet. June 10 through June 15.
13 W. 54th Street


object of desire
Season Opener
Every spring, local chefs scramble for the first local produce of the season, and even though tri-state strawberries have yet to flood the markets, the berry vanguard has started trickling into the kitchens of well-connected pastry chefs. Tocqueville's Mikael Andersson gets his limited supply from New Jersey's Cherry Lane Farms, and transforms the juicy fruits into an elaborate two-part dessert: an individual baked Alaska with strawberry ice cream, and a tiered construction of creamy strawberry panna cotta, diced fresh fruit with mint and lime, a thin layer of berry gêlée, and a smattering of shaved granita. That should tide you over until the Union Square Greenmarket Strawberry Fest on June 12, when Gramercy Tavern's Claudia Fleming, among others, demonstrates (from 11 to 2) how to make jam, shortcake, and preserves.
15 East 15th Street


Dairy King
If you're addicted to Total — the spectacularly creamy Greek-style yogurt that's sold with a sidecar of honey — you have George Likitsakos to thank (or blame). He's the Corinth-born retailer who first imported the pot de crème-thick stuff a few years back. But when the Total titans eventually realized they didn't need a middleman to reach their burgeoning American fan base, Likitsakos stopped selling Total at his Upper East Side market and found a rival producer to export a similarly sumptuous product under his own label instead. Like the competition, Likitsakos Greek Yogurt comes in varying fat levels, ranging from a deceptively thick fat-free to a hyperindulgent 8 percent, and optional honey, or honey-and-walnuts. (Available at Fairway and Likitsakos, 1174 Lexington Avenue, near 80th Street; 212-535-4300.)

Ask Gael
Where can we can talk without roaring?
All those throbbing disco nights dulled my hearing, too. Yet I hate the hush of an uptight hotel dining room. Happily, the filtered babble and piano tattoo from the adjacent lounge punches up the front room of the new Ritz-Carlton's Atelier. Frette linens, eccentric art glass, and familiar faces from Le Bernardin welcome us. The sommelier triumphs with a $48 Brézème, a delicious Côtes du Rhône that's new to me. An intriguing diver-scallop-and-bluefin tartare with caviar rubble and sensational roasted lobster with artichoke and rhubarb (on the sane $68 prix fixe) show that Gabriel Kreuther (Jean Georges's former chef de cuisine) aspires to the elite of our town's season-driven chefs. His morel soup with favas, peas, sprigs of green, and mint oil is spring in a bowl. Tapioca balls in pineapple cream are the star in the daring dessert-before-dessert, almost upstaging the grapefruit tart and the rhubarb-strawberry soup with goat-milk sorbet that follow. Alas, the lively din never hits the somber back room, where, a friend reports, the sommelier poured his $300 wine and never returned.
Ritz-Carlton at 50 Central Park South

Bites & Buzz Archive

Week of June 3
Supper Time; Blue Crab Festival; Godiva's new ice cream bar; Jimmy Rodriguez heats up 57th Street.
Week of May 27
A (blue) lobsterfest; Restaurant 222's $20 prix-fixe; summer restaurant week begins; Citymeals-on-Wheels salute; will Butter make Gael phat?
Week of May 20
Ice ice baby; Jimmy Rodriguez heads downtown; the new Zagat of the wine world?; Gael finds Greeks bearing gifts

and more ...

Photos: From top to bottom- Patrik Rytikangas; Carina Salvi; Joe Scafuro; Kenneth Chen.

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