Thursday, November 30, 2017

Buttonwood Wines at the Comedy and Magic Club

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gourmet Wine Getaways ,  hosted dinner tonight the the Comedy Club in Hermosa Beach. 60 people in attendance to have dinner at the Lounge, cooked by Christine Brown (formerly of Restaurant Christine) and wines provided by Karen Steinwachs of Buttonwood Winery. 

Got to the venue a bit early so we walked around Hermosa Beach pier. Had not been in this area for a lot of years.  The "Lighthouse" was still there. Had the original door an porthole window along with the neon sign. But a big glass window in front now and a classy looking bar.  The small stage for the performers was there but the place looked cleaned up from 50 some odd years ago. In the 50's I haunted the place, listening to jazz, seeing numerous big names there that weren't so big at that time. Served my beverage in a "green" glass because I was underage.  Nice to see something has survived besides me.

At 6:30 they opened the doors to the Lounge and we were ushered in for dinner.  Greeted with a glass of 2016 Buttonwood Estate Sauvignon Blanc. Very nice wine. Not overly grassy nor citrusy.  They passed trays of Hors D'Oeuvre's. Prosciutto wrapped papaya, savory mushroom & goat cheese puff pastry and a dill / basil infused shrimp shooter with lemon caper aioli.  All very tasty.

After being seated for dinner a large bowl of wild mushroom soup with a mushroom ravioli was served. They had dribbled a herb oil in the soup which made no sense to me. I don't need oil in soup. A 2013 Sta Rita Hills, (Hibbs) Pinot Noir was the wine chosen. A light Pinot but did pair well with the mushrooms.

Next was a roasted rack or pork loin, cauliflower risotto, fennel slaw and a fennel demi glace. Pork was OK, I would have liked it a bit more rare but that is a personal preference. Risotto was good, had a lot of flavor along with the demi glace. Fennel was not over whelming. Best of wine of the night was paired with this dish. a 2014 Estate Cabernet Franc. Very lush wine, velvety on the palate. Hint of chocolate when first tasted

A 2013 Estate Classic Cuvee, bordeaux blend, wine was chosen for the grilled filet mignon,  yukon gold scalloped potatoes, grilled asparagus and chimichurri sauce.  Wine was good. The beef was medium well which is not my favorite. The potatoes were in a fat pancake form, had very good flavor.. Asparagus had so much oil on it it was inedible. I did not taste the chimichurri because it was sitting in a bed of oil. 

Dessert was an olive oil cake with berry compote and blood orange sauce. It needed 3 times as much fruit and sauce to help the cake.  What is this fascination with oil tonight ?  It is like the chefs that load every dish with micro greens.  Less sometimes is more. 

I was disappointed in the food. Several items needed just a pinch of salt and why oh why do we have to have a damm herb infused oil on everything.  It tainted the flavors of the food items. It wasn't necessary for the dishes. No one would have missed it and some would be thankful it was not there at all. And all the dishes were very large. It was difficult to "clean your plate".  Service was slow because they did not have enough staff when it came time to serve dinner. Since the club had not been hosted  wine dinners before , the inexperience showed.  Perhaps they learned something and next time they will use that knowledge to put a better foot forward. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Big Red Wine Dinner at Delius

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The annual "Sparkling" dinner at Delius, has been replaced with the "Big Red" wine dinner. Attendance is up because of the theme. People associate red wine with food more than sparkling wines. Their loss. Unless you have experienced bubblies with every course of a dinner you have no idea how good they can pair.

John Hickey of the Henry Wine Group was my dining companion for the evening. Nice thing about sitting with the rep is you get multiple pours.   We started out with a "bubbly". The only non red wine tonight. A Zardetto Prosecco DOC Brut from Italy. A Grilled Baguette with coriander infused triple cream brie and spicy tomato jam accompanied the bubbly. A nice start.

Second course is a Wild Mushroom and  Sage Fricassee with wilted arugula, porcini dusted parmesan crisp. Good flavors which surprised me. I just expected less and got more. Paired with a 2016 Forager, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir. New label for me.  Small production. Pinot was on the lighter side and paired well with the mushrooms.

Next was a Balsamic Glazed Chicken Liver with charred scallions, apple and bacon compote. This dish surprised me also. It was my favorite of the evening. Flavors were well balanced and the compote added a special nuance to the liver.  A 2013 Hook and  Ladder Station Ten Red Blend, Russian River was the wine. A blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Syrah and Cabernet.  Hints of cocoa and cinnamon along with peppery tones.

A Fig Braised Short Rib with sweet potato and gorgonzola gratin and seared kale was the entree. Gratin was excellent and the fig gave the short rib a touch of  sweetness,. Meat was tender and full of flavors.  Paired with a 2014 Domiane Cabirau Serge and  Nicholas, France.  A red blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignane.  Very nice wine, subtle flavors of spice & pepper. A good pairing.

Dessert was a Mulled Wine Poached Pear with house made cinnamon ice cream and a orange honey drizzle. A nice end to a very good dinner.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Relief Dinner at Chianina

Wednesday,  November 15, 2017

Chianina restaurant in Naples,, hosted a dinner tonight to raise funds for the wine country fire victims.   The restaurant donated the food, the staff donated their time and the wineries donated the wine. The $175 I paid for the dinner was 100% tax deduction.  Michaels on Naples was doing the same. Both restaurants are owned by Michael Dene. 

We started off with a glass or Starmont,  Sauvignon Blanc. This is a second label of Merryvale. I really enjoyed this wine. Slightly acidic but with a peach taste. 

First course was a Scallop with butternut squash, hazelnut, amarant leaves (beautiful colors) and brown butter. Exquisite.  Perfectly paired with a 2014 Grgich Hills, Napa, Chadonnay. Slightly oaked but paired perfect with the scallop.

Next was a Coddled Egg on a bed of leeks with shaved black truffle. Then a potato cream soup was poured around that. Everything about this dish was perfect.  But the wine was a 2014 Nickel & Nickle, Napa, Merlot. Did not go with this dish at all. The Chardonnay from the first course was a much better  pairing. 

Third course is a Roast Chicken Breast, braised thigh, napa cabbage and turnip. I rarely have chicken in a restaurant but this piece of poultry was so perfectly cooked. Moist, juicy and the flesh itself was solid, not stringy like some chicken breasts get. It had a slight hint of salt but you could not say it was salty.  A 2011 Sullivan, Napa, Coeur De Vigne, a Bordeaux blend. was the wine selection. This to be was the best wine of the evening.

A Roasted Prime Angus Beef with maitake mushrooms, brussel sprout and bone marrow was the last entree.  I had one bite and took the rest home. I was overly stuffed by now as I had two of the salted honey rolls with loads of marscarpone butter.  Paired with a 2013 Antica, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon. My least favorite wine. Needed more cellaring.

Dessert was a Poached Pear with a spiced ice cream. Served with a Moscato. A bit too sweet for me.

Again a good dinner at Chianina aside from Marc's rating on politics.  They do food here really well. A nice fund raiser and glad to contribute.

Lunch with the Boys

Monday, November 13, 2017

Today we headed to India Grill in Cypress for our monthly lunch.  Normally it is Dim Sum but at least once a year we pay homage to CJ's cuisine.  All the Indian restaurants seem to do a buffet lunch. Don't get everything on the regular menu but there is a large selection of dishes available.

Since it was buffet we all had our favorites. I found that the Tandori Chicken was much moister than the Chicken Tiki Masala. I had an array of vegetables. Henry o'd on the braised lamb shank.  CJ ordered a side of fried onions.

Our wines today were 2011 Kosta Browne, RRV, Pinot Noir,  2016 Vignobles, Lachzteav, Vouvray. 2016 Wachtstetter, Germany, Rose of Pinot Noir,  2011 Zaca Mesa, SYV, Syrah and a 2015 Michael Davis, Lodi, Petite Syrah.  I found the rose and the vouvray were the best wines with this spicier food.

We toasted our dear friend Terry, whose anniversary of his death was last Monday the 6 of November. I was out of town so we did not do our monthly lunch on that date. I am sure that Terry would understand.

Timbre Wines at Taste

Monday, November 13, 2017

7 of us tonight for this dinner at Taste.  We took half of the communal table. Timbre Wines were being poured. Josh Klapper the winemaker was running quite late due to traffic coming in from Arroyo Grand. There was a memorial service for Seth Kunin, a winemaker, today and everyone who knew Seth was there. Saw pictures of the services and it was a huge crowd. 

We started out with a Poached Pear Salad, arugula, frisee, toasted walnuts, blue cheese mousse and a cider vinaigrette. Very good flavors and the blue cheese mousse added the right touch. Paired with a 2016 Sterophonic Riesling.

Second course is a Butter Poached Cod, braised leeks, fingerling potatoes and lemon thyme cream sauce. Again the sauce really made the dish. Cod was moist and cooked perfectly. Wine was a 2014 Lead Vocals Bien Nacidio Chardonnay. Neutral French Oak and paired nicely with the fish.

Next was a Grilled Quail, rosemary & black pepper marinade, sweet potato mash, spinach  bacon jus. Excellent dish. Quail was moist and juicy, the marinade gave it the right touch. The mash was smooth and loads of flavor. My favorite dish of the night. Wine paired is a 2013 Headliner Pinot Noir. Light wine, good fruit.

A Forest Mushroom Risotto was served, mushroom truffle reduction, chives and caramelized cippolini onions.  Nice earthy tone to this dish. Risotto cooked perfectly. and the 2014 A Cote Pinot Noir was a good choice to pair with this dish.

Dessert was a Marscarpone Cheesecake, vanilla bean poached quine and ginger syrup. A light dessert and the end of a heavy meal

A good dinner with great friends. A nice way to spend a Monday night.

Issara Thai Restaurant

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Margie's monthy dinner venue was held at Issara Thai restaurant in Huntington Beach.                We have been here numerous times in the past years. Food is always good. 

We started out with their chicken wings which have a nice sticky coating and a bit of a of a bite. Always a good choice. This year we were treated to their spare ribs. They are cooked for 16 hours and only available for special occasions. Some of the best ribs I have had. Layers of flavor.

Next was beef waterfall, a grilled skirt steak with onion. It is served slightly warm. Then onto red curry duck. This was a big hit last year. but I think it was also better last year. This time it just did not do that much for me. Something was off.

 Wok stir fry with shrimp and garlic was set before us.  New dish and I would have this one again. Loved all the garlic and the shrimp were exceptionally fresh.

Last two dishes were the crispy sole with apple and silver noodle stir fry.  The sole is a staple and always good, fried with a light batter and never oily. The silver noodle dish again was a new one. Interesting. I would try this one again. Not sure what I really thought of it. Flavor was good but texture was an slight issue.

A big array of wines were brought. Since we were broken up into 4 tables of 4 you have to get up and wander to find what wines were on the other tables.  I brought a 2014 Tercero Outlier which is a dry Gewurztraminer and goes exceptionally well with Thai cuisine. And a 2010 Seagrape Pinot Noir. Both wines were drinking quite nicely.

2008 McKeon Phillips, Cabernet Franc - excellent 
2016 Mandallena, Rose - ok
Beringer, Chardonnay - did not taste
LaCana Albarino - ok
Mumm Napa Cuvee - nice
2012 Tobin James Liquid Love - did not taste but I have had this wine numerous times
2015 Epiphany, Grenache Blanc - don't remember if I tasted it or not
2013 Hermann Wiemer Gewurztraimer - nice
2012 Dead On Chenin Blanc - nice
2013 Domaine Caneros by Tattinger Brut - very good
2014 Lincourt Pinot Noir - not a Lincourt fan
2012 Williams Selyem RRV, Pinot Noir - always good
2014 Raunes Dry Riesling - ok
2011 Chateau Frank, Blanc de Blanc - nice
2014 Coquelicot Riesling - did not taste
Perlato Brut Neirano - It think this may have been a sparkling 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Another Dim Sum with The Boys

Monday, October 23, 2017

If its Monday that means Dim Sum with the boys at Seafood Palace in Westminister. Mondays are dead days at restaurants so it is never crowded which we like. But sometimes we suffer because the seafood is leftover from the weekend. Henry always asks what is best and fresh. If we went in without Henry they would not be that considerate of us.

We always start out with a few items from the cart then so onto whatever Henry decides is good that day. So Sticky sweet rice with sausage wrapped in lotus leaves, shrimp shu mai and a pork shu mai from the cart

Then onto a new dish. Very thin noodles, almost like string flavored with salted fish, a few greens and then chicken added.  Interesting, good flavor but I still prefer "fat noodles".

Our complimentary bowl of sweet sour spicy soup. Better than last months but not as good as several months ago. Different chefs make the same type of soup differently. Mostly by the seasonings. Some are more heavy handed than others.

Beef with Chinese broccoli which is a regular for us. Beef is very tender and goes well with the red wines. Today seemed much more flavorful.

Last dish was salt and pepper prawns. Big prawns cooked with the shells and heads on for the most flavor. This was one of Cora's favorite dishes. 

Then our normal egg tarts for dessert.

Our wines today included 3 bubblies. There  is a heat wave hitting our area and it is over 100 today.

I brought a Morettei Proseco. Others brought Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace, RH Coutier a Ambonnay Brut, 2012 Abelis Carthago Lui, Tempranillo and a 2011 Zaca Mesa Syrah.

Another Dim Sum for the singles is over.  Next month we will do our lunch at India Grille in Los Alamitos/Cypress.  Weather is cooling and the Indian food lunch buffet is calling us.