Friday, April 11, 2014

Thursday at The Himalayan

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A quick short notice get together at The Himalayan Grille in Sunset Beach. www.himalayangrille.com,  When I stopped by Wednesday night to inform them that there would be six for dinner the next day I found out Sanjiv was no longer the manager. He left to start his own restaurant on Katella. Will have to find out where and check it out. His brother Dennis still owns the Himalayan but a new floor manager will be handling things. My concern was  "corkage". We have never paid corkage before.. Talked with a couple of waitstaff about it since the manager was not available.

Showed up early Thursday to see if I could speak with the manager. He was not there but the waitstaff informed me as long as we bring our own glasses and take care of our "wine needs" ourselves there would be no corkage. Fair enough.

I think it is real tacky to go into a restaurant that has a no corkage policy and expect them to open your wine, provide glasses and decanters and pour the wine for you. Be self sufficient if you expect favors.

We started off with Samosa's and garlic Naan.  Then off to the Lamb Saag, Lamb Korma, Tandoori Shrimp, Chicken Vindaloos, Fish Marsala and Vegetables Korma. As before all good food dishes.  have not had a dish here at the Himalayan that I did not like. Took home the rice and leftover sauces. The sauces are really good here, they excel in making them.  One of the better Indian restaurants that I have dined at.

Wines were a mixed bag. I brought a 2009 Sea Smoke Botlella which was showing really well. 2010 Gloria Ferrer Chardonnay which was nice and clean. No oak. 2011 Bryon, Santa Maria, Pinot Noir, 2009 Gordon Estate, Columbia Valley, Merlot, NV River Road Brut sparkling and a 2010 Croad, Paso Robles, Zinfandel. Dave & Judy brought a Tobin James Liquid Love dessert wine to finish the evening.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Catal Restaurant at Downtown Disney

Thursday. April 3, 2014

Attended a Brewer-Clifton/Palmina wine dinner this evening. at the Catal restaurant. www.Patinagroup.com. Had never been to Downtown Disney even though I can drive to it in 20 minutes. Unless I would be doing a dinner at one of the restaurants I would not go there again.

Had a difficult time finding where to park. Now that I know it would be a lot easier the second time. After Valet parking you need to walk approximately 7 minutes to reach the Catal restaurant. No accommodations for handicap that we could find.  We managed to get to Catal by 7:00 but even the hosts Steve & Crystal Clifton were late. My advice , give yourself twice as much time as you think you need.

Reception was held outside on the balcony overlooking the Uva bar .Huge round bar on the outside in front of Catal. It was a busy place. We were poured a glass of 2012 Palmina Tocai Friulano, Honea Vineyard. This wine does go very well with artichokes and asparagus.. After about 30 minutes we were seated inside. The area we were at was between the inside bar, kitchen area and another dining area that was open to the public. Downside was that the waitstaff had to walk right by us the get to the other dining area. we were also on and end which made it noisier than it should have been.

An "Amuse Bouche" was served - Chicken Pate Terrine, Apricot Mostardo and Toasted Pistachios. This was served with a 2011 Palmina "Subida" Tocia Friulano. The wine was slightly effervescent, had an orange tinge to it and was very grapefuity in taste. Subida is a a method in winemaking. Whole clusters with skins on for a period of time.  I had both Tocai's with my pate and I personally preferred the 2012. The pate was very good and I really enjoyed the Mostardo. Actually would have liked a bit more of it on the plate.

First Course: Black Cod, Arroz Negro, Sugar Snap Peas, Mango and Coconut-Lemongrass Foam. Cod was cooked perfectly and the rice was a very good addition to the dish. Paired with a 2010 Brewer-Clifton 3-D, Chardonnay. Very good Chardonnay but I did not like the pairing. Others did.

Second Course: Duck Breast, Duck Confit Cigar, Hon-Shimeji Mushrooms, Kale, Dark Cherries and Anise Jus. Again cooked perfectly. Good flavors. Excellent dish  Wine was a 2011 Brewer-Clifton, Sta. Rita Hills, Pinot Noir. A very good pairing.

Third Course: Spiced Pork Belly and Scallop, Parsnip Cream, Beet Beurre Rouge, Root Vegetable Potpourri. . Dishes keep getting better. Both the pork belly and scallop are cooked perfectly and the parsnip cream really added another dimension. You would not think that these two proteins would go well together but they did. Paired with a 2011 Palmina, Santa Barbara County, Barbera. Excellent wine and again it went perfectly with the food.

Fourth Course: Grilled New York Strip, Smoked Short Rib and Onion Marmalade Ravioli, Violet Mustard, Romanesco and Thyme Jus. Steak was tender and had good flavor. The Ravioli was outstanding. They poured a 2008 Palmina, Santa Barbara County, Nebbiolo. This wine and the Barbera were my two favorites of the night.

Dessert was a Ginger-Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Strawberries, Candied Pistachios and Shortbread Cookie Crumble. This was a really fantastic dessert. No flaws at all. Perfect end to a excellent meal

They did ask at the beginning of the meal about any food allergies. Nice touch, most places don't bother. Service was very good. Very attentive staff. The Executive chef, Steven Mary came to the table after every round and asked what we thought. He gave me his his card with his number on it in case I ever had any questions. New clean flatware at every course. Clean glasses with every wine. At the beginning Marc said he though the dish lacked a little salt so a cellar of fleur de sel was given to him. They seemed to really care about your opinions. The manager came and talked with us. We addressed to noise problem with the dining area next to us. He indicated that they may move the wine dinners to another area. They plan on having many more in the future. The presentations were excellent. All the plates took on an artistic look to them. In spite of the parking and walk, I would do dinner here again.  The food and plating was similar to Delius which we all know is my favorite place. All of us were happy last night

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Red Table

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dinner at the Red Table , www.redtablerestaurants.com, in Huntington Beach tonight. Two of my non-wine drinking friends so I ordered a glass of a Chilean Cabernet off the list. It did the trick.  Corkage here is $10 for the first bottle, $10 for the second bottle and then $25 for each bottle after that. They have a small decent wine list but nothing I am overly excited about. But really nice craft beers.

Large menu and many daily blackboard specials we started out with a plate of Red Table Fries with a spicy catsup. Everything here has a spice or kick to it.

Ordered a Flatbread with garlic and shrimp. Very good. Loads of garlic. I also ordered a bowl of Lobster Bisque. Good flavor but I do prefer the creamier version.

Brenda ordered a plate of Meatball sliders. Three sliders, very large meatballs with sauce. She said they were very good. Did not taste them

Diane order the Beer Brined Porkchops. Two large chops, caramelized red cabbage and mashed potatoes. Had a bite of the pork and it was good. Also the red cabbage was good.

I have been here several times. Food has always been good.

Large portions and lots of doggy bags going home. Maybe next time I will take a bottle of wine.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Just a Thought

A few people have questioned me on the wines we take to do the Chinese dim sum, dinners. They felt that some of the bigger wines, like Cabs, Zins etc were not good pairings. The food that we get at these authentic Chinese places usually have bold flavor. It is not you typical American style Chinese food. Just the opposite. So far we have not been disappointed in our selection of wines. Plus we usually stay for awhile after eating to have conversation and more wine. Not everything has to be matchy, matchy all the time. Enjoy food and wine and don't be so uptight about being correct.

Tercero Wines and Delius Restaurant

Friday, March 28, 2014

Larry Shaeffer of Tercero wines finally made it to Delius tonight. www.deliusrestaurant.com.   Tried to get a dinner together last year but did not quite work out, This dinner was sold out a month ago with no menu decided. Shows what good wines and food will do. I was anxious to compare this dinner with the Tercero wine dinner that I attended a few weeks back at Restaurant Christine in Torrance.

Part way through the dinner the earthquake hit. We only felt one out of three. The chandler swung quite a bit. Soon as it hit people started with their phones. All these lights popped up in the dinning room. Checking to see where it was. Quite interesting how our society has changed over the last 30 years. 

First Course: Seared Wild Scallop, Corn Pudding, Roasted Pine Nuts. Scallop was cooked perfectly Perfectly paired with a 2012 Tercero Grenache Blanc.  I am glad the scallop had a really good sear on it so it contrasted with the corn pudding. Visually it need a touch of color which the sear gave. White scallop, pale pudding and pale pine nuts. Taste wise it was excellent.

Second Course: Rhubarb Apple Stuffed Pork Loin, Watercress, Currants, Celery Root Puree. This was the best dish of the night. Pork was moist and had excellent flavor. The rhubarb really added a little punch to the meat. The celery root puree was creamy and just enough flavor to compliment the pork. Wine served was a 2009 Tercero Larner Vineyard Grenache. Excellent pairing.

Third Course: Rack of Lamb, Creamy Polenta, Baby Brussels Sprouts, Blackberry Coulis, Lamb was very tender, cooked perfectly and had no gamey taste at all. The polenta was creamy (Restaurant Christine was rustic). The blackberry coulis pulled this dish together. Paired with a 2010 Tercero White Hawk Vineyard Syrah. Again a beautiful pairing.

Fourth Course: Grilled Flat Iron Steak, Beluga Lentils, Roasted Baby Carrots, Juniper-Rosemary Demi. I am not a big lentil fan. For lentils they had good flavor. My own personal taste would have been another grain, like farro or quinoa or even potatoes. Steak was tender, had good flavor. The demi added just the perfect touch but I pushed the lentils around on the plate like a kid does when they don't want to eat something. Made it look like I ate some of them. Wine poured was a 2010 Tercero, The Climb, Syrah-Petite Syrah Blend. Great wine. Big but not overly jamy. I was impressed with this wine.

Dessert was a Strawberry Shortcake (the old fashioned kind, not spongy) Meyer Lemon Sorbet and Lemon Curd. The lemon and strawberry really played off each other.

An excellent dinner with good wines. My comparison to the dinner at Restaurant Christine - Delius wins hands down. Christine was good but not on the same level. Price was almost equal but Chrstine was inclusive. But for the difference in food, service and ambiance I will hands down take Delius Several other people that did both dinners said the same thing and they had never been to Delius before. 

If things work out right there will be another Tercero dinner at Delius on April 19. The same menu with some slight adjustments to pair with different wines. Also working on another Clos Pepe dinner at Delius in July.

Now if this small restaurant in Signal Hill can produce food of this caliber and pair wines this well why can't the WOPN, Bacarra Resort, Sea Smoke Wines and Maison Louis Jadot Wines do the same. I paid  a little over $100 for dinner at Delius, had excellent food, good wines etc. The two dinners at WOPN came to $650 and were dismal. Poor quality food, mediocre pairings and rip off on prices. WOPN and the board of same should be ashamed of themselves for the screwing they gave everyone. I will probably rant about this for many months to come

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dim Sum on a Monday

Monday, March 24, 2014

I took this Monday off as a furlough day. Trying to ease my way into retirement, One Monday a month off until June then 2 Mondays off.

Six of us gathered today at the Seafood Palace. Terry was recovered enough from his hip surgery to attend. Nice to see him up and  around again. He expects about six months of rehab and recovery.

Started out with a Sweet Sour soup. Its always good. Then a new standby dish. The shrimp rolled in seaweed and fried. Also had the baked BBQ beef buns. A plate of Chinese Broccoli for vegetables.

Steamed ribs showed up along with a ground pork, mushrooms rolled in rice and then steamed in a lotus leaf.

A dish we have had several times was ordered, Shrimp in a soft noodle like wrapper. Good flavor but very hard to eat because it is so slippery, but I persevered and managed the chopstick routine.  A plate of Beef with snowpeas, carrots and chestnuts was put in front of us. It disappeared fast. 

A new dish - Salt and Pepper Pork Spare Ribs. I really liked this dish and hope we have it often. Finished with a Beef and bok choy with carrots over soft fat noodles. Love those noodles.

A mini egg tart was presented and we all demolished ours. All this food with tax and tip came to $9 per person. You cannot go to a fast food place anymore for that amount.

Wines were really good. I brought a 2002 and 2004 McKeon-Phillips BPR Cabernet Sauvignon. I was concerned about their age but they both were showing well. I think that the 2002 is just past its peak so I am glad I opened it. Need to clear out some of my older California wines.

2006 McKeon-Phillips Leonardo
2007 Artesa, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Tyler, Clos Pepe Vineyard, Pinot Noir
2007 Reverie Malbec, Primiere Napa Valley, Lot 048 Reserve, Diamond Mountain. This is a special wine that is made by several winemakers in Napa Valley and used for auctions only.

It will be nice when I have a few more Mondays off work so I can do Dim Sum during the week more often. Less crowded and cheaper.

Monthly Gathering of The Wino Flock

Sunday, March 23, 2014

 Off to Santa Monica for our monthly wino's gathering. Seemed like everyone decided to carpool today. Maybe the new parking restrictions in the neighborhood had something to do with it. Followed David & Judy down Wilshire Blvd to Stan's. David passed up a parking space on the left and went up the block looking for something else. I whipped a "U" ey and nailed the space. I could always parallel   park really well. I had nailed the space, parked and had the engine shut off when David passed me trying to get the space. Snooze you loose.

Weather was chilly and damp. But the tents were set up and long tables underneath with lots of chairs. Stan made a beef dish and a pork dish in the crockpots. I did not try the beef but the pork was very good. Lots of appetizers but not one dessert showed up.

A couple of interesting wines among the 27 lined up. A vertical of Stolpman Hilltops Syrah, 2007, 2008 and 2009. A 2009 Saxum Bone Rock Syrah - that bottle emptied fast. There are a few double pourer' in our group and when a really good wine comes in they seem to take more than their fair share. A good line up today. The day seemed much more friendly than some gatherings in the past.