You may remember Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler’s mega-hit book from last summer, the story of a young woman’s year of expanding her palate via food, wine, and other pleasures. All is seen through the lens of a Manhattan restaurant based on Danny Meyer’s exalted Union Square Cafe, where she had worked. Since then, the iconic spot has changed locations; and we checked in with the author on the eve of the paperback release (April 4).
“For anyone who has worked there or has an intimate relationship,” she says of the restaurant, “it’s such a sentimental, emotional landmark. I was so blown away [by the new location], it’s so much better in every way. The space is comfortable but pitch perfect. The gnocchi is still light as a pillow. I was not prepared for how wonderful the experience was…maybe I was a little skeptical.”
One thing Stephanie Danler is not skeptical about is wine. With spring here and summer on the horizon, we asked her for her top five warm weather picks and how best to enjoy them.
“The mystery is still there with wine,” she insists, “in a way it’s not there with food. There is still that $5 sparkling wine in Barcelona you can’t get here. There are still secrets. Rosé can never be over. We called it a quaffer or a quaffable wine – it’s not a wine that you age and drink with a steak, it is notprecious. There are incredible wines that happen to be pink.”
“Red but serve chilled, perfect grill wine.”
“This wine is bananas, aged years before it’s released. I think it’s hard to find now but so, so worth it.”
“Demi-sec, versatile. Drink over ice or with strawberries as dessert.”
“A miracle and the most undervalued alcohol in the world. I used to run sherry classes. It’s never stuck. Drink as an aperitif with chilled seafood. Heaven.”
“I buy one bottle every year. It’s a huge splurge but it’s a whole experience.“