To nibble on we ordered a cheese plate laden with a manchego (cow's milk, spanish), a tete de moine (cow's milk, swiss), a morbier yellow (cow's milk, french), a french brie (cow's milk), and an herbed goat cheese (french), starwberries, guava paste, and some sort of exotic fruit that we both somehow ignored. For me, they also brought out cucumber slices instead of bread. My personal favorite was the herbed goat cheese. It was tangy and full of spicy flavors from the herbs, but the addition of lemon brightened it up. It was especially delicious when Michael suggested I pair it with a bit of guava paste.
Our second glass of the evening was the 2007 Terras Guada Albarino from the Rias Biaxas region of Spain. If poured, I would certainly drink this wine, but it was my least favorite of the night. It's clearly a wine of quality, just not particularly memorable for me.
Then we moved on the reason to go to Ayza in the first place: the chocolates. They make some homemade chocolates, such as the chocolate covered cherry and the milk chocolate paino with butterscotch filling that Michael ordered. But the stars are really the truffles made by the incredible Jacques Torres. We ordered the Bin 27, a dark chocolate truffle made with Taylor Fonseca Bin 27 port, the melon truffle made with melon puree and port in milk chocolate, the hazelnut truffle in milk chocolate, the Alize Hearts of Passion, made with passion fruit and Alize liquor in milk chocolate, and the Got Milk Chocolate, made with cognac and milk chocolate. The hazelnut truffle was our least favorite, mostly because the taste of roasted hazelnuts completely overwhelmed the flavor of the chocolate and left a bitter aftertaste. I found the butterscotch truffle a bit overpowering as well. The Alize Hearts of Passion and the melon truffle were my favorite, and had the clearest, most balanced flavors in my opinion. Michael seemed to enjoy the Got Milk Chocolate the most.
We also ordered two flights of sweet wines, two reds and two whites. The white wines were a 2006 Muscat Beaumes de Venise Domaine Durbain from the Cotes du Rhone in France and a 2006 Juracon Uruolat Charles Hours from South West, France. The reds were both non vintage 10 year ports, a Maury Mas Amiel Cuvee from Midi, France and a Churchill Tawny Port from Porto, Potrugal. I preferred the Muscat BdV and the Maury Mas Amiel Cuvee, while Michael seemed to enjoy the other two.
I'd say that Ayza's well worth the hype. I'd like to go back for food at some point so I can make a more informed decision, but in terms of wine, chocolate, and cheese, this was a great place. They also do events such as Jazz nights and Couples' Night . Check out http://www.ayzanyc.com/ for menus, pricing, and other information. (photo courtesy of Ayza's website)