Harlem, like most neighborhoods in New York City, has had a roller coaster history. It has gone from a center of music and multi ethnicity at its peak in the mid twentieth century, to a no man’s land of burnt out buildings and boarded up storefronts, by the 1970s.
If you have not seen Harlem in a while you need to see it now. Sidewalk cafes, restaurants serving local and international cuisines with live music wafting out into the streets, spice shops and dashiki boutiques have repopulated the once shuttered and blacked out windows of old brownstones and pre war buildings.
James Beard Award winner Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster restaurant fame was one of the first celebrity chefs to see the potential in a culinary rebirth of Harlem. Others followed. Now Harlem is once again a destination for the food-and wine minded.
Dine In Harlem at Samuelsson’s newest restaurant Streetbird Rotisserie was a night to remember. Chefs Adrienne Cheatham and Paul Qui showcased a medley of rotisserie and eclectic street food inspired cuisine that spoke to the melting pot of cultures that defines New York City culinary history.
The menu was created in part with a Bordeaux focus. It was probably the first time Bordeaux wines were expressly paired with the menu at Streetbird Rotisserie. The result? Bordeaux wines are definitely about a lot more than traditional French pairings.
The menu went everywhere around the globe, taking Bordeaux wines with it. Amberjack Filipino ceviche flavored with coconut milk was served with a Chateau de Cerons 2013 from Graves.
The sweetness of the coconut milk in this dish provided a nice contrast to the minerality in this vintage.
Next up was a Chateau du Mayne Blanc 2012 from Graves was poured with a small plate of bay scallops and peanut salsa. This time floral and citrus notes enhanced sweet and nutty flavors.
Then came the main courses. A fork tender smoked Wagyu short ribs with pickles, a Streetbird signature rotisserie chicken, a mixed vegetables sautéed in chicken fat and a Chinese style stir fried lo mein kept coming, as did the only red wine of the evening, a Clos Magne Figeac 2011 from Saint Emilion.
Everyone could not get enough of the lo mein. They also raved about a Chateau Roumieu 2012 from Sauternes that accompanied what could best be described as a cross between an almond paste and rhubarb éclair and a cream puff.
Whatever it was, the dessert and the Harlem culinary renaissance, were indeed well worth waiting for.