Soufflé Puissance

Patrick Esquerré of Café Patrique is regrouping and adding some thrust to his fast-casual concept after he shuttered his operation in Mockingbird Station. He says he's going to inject energy into the Café Patrique at Preston-Forest, starting with a menu shift that will emphasize grilled items, expanded salad selections and soufflés. "My goal is to put this concept in good shape and then from there, to expand. I want to make sure I don't make the same mistake again," he says, referring to the failed Mockingbird Station experiment, where he says the parking situation confused his customers and put a drag on his business. (Yet the parking situation doesn't seem to affect the crowds at nearby Rockfish Seafood Grill. Maybe its customers ride the train). Esquerré says he is eyeing Oak Lawn and Plano as the first nodes in his expansion plans.

Michael Hope of Hope Estate Vineyards in Australia's Hunter Valley breezed through Dallas with a lunch stop at City Café recently to show off his chardonnay, merlot and shiraz that all hover in the $11-$14 range. The wines were all good in a favorable pound-for-pound-of-flavor-for-the-buck sort of way. So maybe it was no surprise that the most interesting quaff in this grouping was also the cheapest. The Hope Estate 2001 Verdelho, crafted from a little-seen (outside of where Aussies huddle) white Portuguese grape closely associated with the island of Madeira, is a wine perfectly suited to the macabre blanket of dripping, gasping anguish and gnashing of teeth that is a Dallas summer. The wine opens with a delicate floral nose that leads into a mouthful of crisp, refreshing citrus and tropical fruits and a barely perceptible earthy quality on its longer-than-expected finish...Despite a year riddled with economic tremors and the September 11 cleft, 2001 was a banner year for U.S. wine consumption, according to the Wine Institute. Total U.S. wine consumption hit some 563 million gallons valued at $19.8 billion. That compares with 559 million gallons in 2000 and 466 million gallons in 1991. Red wine continues to nibble market share away from whites and those icky blush wines, constituting 37 percent of all wine sold in 2001. This compares with 25 percent of the total for reds in 1995 and 17 percent in 1991...For the second time this spring, a U.S. district judge has ruled that state laws prohibiting interstate wine shipments direct to consumers are unconstitutional. District Judge Graham C. Mullen ruled earlier this month that North Carolina's shipping ban is unconstitutional. This ruling comes just a week after a federal judge struck down Virginia's ban on direct wine shipments to consumers.


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