Alon Shaya, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind New Orleans’ perennially packed Saba, debuted Safta, his latest restaurant and Denver’s first destination for modern Israeli cuisine.
We caught up with Chelsea Little, the bar manager at Safta, to hear how she is settling into her new digs and talk about life, love, and what wines she’s been pouring. (Safta specializes in Israeli, Turkish, and Middle Eastern wines, Central and Eastern European varieties, plus some domestic and natural bottles. There are also Middle Eastern-accented cocktails, like spiked frozen limonana, or Israeli mint lemonade.)
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A Wisconsin native, Little most recently helmed the beverage program at Ultreia, a Spanish restaurant in Denver’s Union Station. Here, Little shares her desert-island wine, and explains why she will always have space in her heart for one very special bowling alley bar.
1.What’s the bottle that made you fall in love with wine?
Jacques Puffeney Trousseau!
2. FMK three varieties: Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay?
F: Chardonnay, I’m sure she’d be a good time. M: Pinot, a well-balanced kinda guy you can always count on. K: Cabernet. Great on a dinner date, but I’m not too sure he’s in it for the long haul.
3. You’re on death row. What’s your last-supper wine?
4. You can only drink one wine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Jura Savagnin. (See a pattern there?)
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it?
The local bowling alley in Cedarburg, Wisc., held a dear place in my heart growing up. The beer is always cold, and you can bet that your pizza will be properly burnt in the toaster oven they have behind the bar.
6. What’s the best and worst wine on your rack (or in your fridge) right now?
Box of rosé in the fridge [laughs]. And a bottle of Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia in the “cellar” — by cellar I mean a box in my closet.
7. If you could no longer drink wine, what would be your beverage of choice?
Tequila, of the Highland variety.