Bringing it Home: Corks at the Bedford Village Inn

The Italian owner of the bedford village inn offers a taste of home in corks.

The dining spaces at the Bedford Village Inn are a jewel to behold. Each cut carefully to dazzle diners and offer precious moments that will be long remembered. Rich fabrics and quality antiques come together for a visual feast in every corner. You can enjoy an airy breakfast in the sunny porch space or dine in the cozy, quiet rooms in the original old homestead. Casual dining in the Tavern takes comfortable to classic.

About four years ago Jack Carnevale and his son Jon pondered what to do with one of the larger rooms upstairs at the inn. "It was a bit dowdy," says Jack. Jon, with his newly earned sommelier status from the Court of Masters, was happy to turn it into a wine bar. The room was gutted, redesigned and richly appointed into what looks like a private club. You almost think you need a secret knock to get in.

Low lights and the feel of private dining are just the start. Rich cherry wood paneling, gold-flecked cork wallpaper, leather and plush seating, an ultra-modern fireplace and an under-lit onyx bar give the room instant character. Plus, the room has its own special menu and drink list highlighted with a special cruvinet system imported from Italy. The tapping system uses argon gas to preserve open bottles of wine, allowing the bartender to serve some of their top wines by the glass.

The Bedford Village Inn has long earned Wine Spectator awards for their list. Jack claims to have more than 10,000 bottles in five wine cellars scattered about the property. Corks itself has a 17-page list offering what Jon describes as their "greatest hits." Recently they added a weekly wine flights to the bar list, giving guests a taste of wines from a specific region in France or Italy. A few others on the menu are tours of Spain and California.

Although the room is named Corks, there is a fine beer list, loaded with Jon's favorite Imperial Stouts, Belgians and IPAs. A tasty martini menu offers interesting, refreshing blends with grapefruit and cranberry to dessert style with Stoli Vanil, Frangelico, Godiva White Chocolate, cream and freshly brewed espresso. One special listing is priced at $175. The L'implusion du Moment includes two glasses of sparkling wine and an overnight stay for two in a luxury suite and breakfast in the morning. Ooh la la.

Back to reality, an additional bonus to dining in Corks is the menu selections. You can order from any of the house menus -the fine dining menu, the Tavern menu and the special Corks menu. This relatively short menu is long on favorite options like BVI's crab cakes and the Chocolate Bag dessert to name just a few, but unique to Corks are the Italian options. Executive Chef Ben Knack, a Hell's Kitchen alum, has given a golden touch to just a few well-chosen pasta dishes.

Using the best imported pasta from Italy, Chef Knack makes classic dishes, probably not the way your Nonnie did. Even you will have to admit she was a hack after tasting Knack's entrées. They burst with flavor and are light but yet very richly satisfying. Stozzapreti pasta is served with house-made Italian sausage, bits of broccolini and roasted garlic bathed in a light sauce. The sauce is lightened with the addition of pasta water. The potato gnocchi is light as a feather and the sauce has just a touch of cream and truffle oil. The bucatini is served with an interesting Bolognese sauce that probably varies slightly as they use meats on hand that week. The pasta itself is a more delicate version of what you may be used to too. (Unless you are Mary Ann Esposito.) The tiny twists hold and capture the flavor and add immeasurably to these dishes. They are each offered in two sizes, appetizer ($11) and entrée ($16) to match your appetite.

Other Italian-inspired menu items include charcuterie and cheese plates, although the cheeses are from New England with just a few imported.

Save room for dessert. Pastry Chef Sheri Buckley knocks it out of the park with her imaginative presentations and combinations. The grilled sponge cake topped with a corn milk panacotta I tasted was superb.

One thing about BVI: Jack Carnevale is not going to sit on his laurels. He is constantly upgrading and renovating. "I need a project," he says. And this latest project will be huge. The great hall will become a spa and guest rooms in that building will become spa oriented. A new structure will be added for functions and an additional 50 guest rooms, bar and dining space.

The gift shop Smitten is run by Andrea Carnevale and is a worthy detour before dinner for eye-catching jewelry and more.

With many dining options, this family-run operation offers a world-class experience where all the love of the process is obvious like a beautiful painting on the wall for all to enjoy. NH

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Evaluating Wine by Sight

The glass should be about one-third full and you should loosely follow the following steps to completely evaluate the wine visually.

Straight Angle View: A deeply-saturated, purple-black color might well be syrah or zinfandel, while a lighter, pale brick shade would suggest pinot noir or sangiovese.

Side View: A wine that looks clear and brilliant and shows some sparkle is always a good sign.

Tilted View: If the color looks quite pale and watery near its edge, it suggests a rather thin, possibly insipid wine. If the color looks tawny or brown (for a white wine) or orange or rusty brick (for a red wine) it is either an older wine or a wine that has been oxidized and may be past its prime.

Swirl: If the wine forms "legs" or "tears" that run down the sides of the glass the wine has more alcohol and glycerin content, which generally indicates that they are bigger, riper and more mouth-filling than those that do not.

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