Friday, October 24, 2014

Prix Fixe at Delius

Thursday, October 23, 2014.

Nine of us met tonight at Delius,  www.deliusrestaurant.com,  for the October Prix Fixe menu  The  which changes at the beginning of every month

Started out with a Chicken Sausage Stew, Kale and White Beans. To me it was a soup not a stew. Stews are always thicker. Very good flavor and went well with the 2013 Cade, Napa Valley, Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was not overly acidic and had a light tropical fruit taste to it. But I did have some bubbly left from earlier and I thought the bubbly went better with the dish.

Second course presented was an Autumn Squash Ravioli, Sage and Pecan Butter. This to me was the hit dish of the evening. Dough was very tender and the squash really put it out there.  Great flavor and the butter was one that you sopped up with bread. Wine served was a 2011 Fossil Point , Edna Valley, Chardonnay.  Not my style of wine as it a bit oaky but the wine did hold up to the butter sauce. I could have had several of these raviolis.

The next dish I was really disappointed in. Crispy Calamari, Spicy Arrabiata Sauce.  I found the calamari rings to be a little tough. The whole baby calamari were ok but without the sauce they would have been nothing. The breading left a lot to be desired. Not much of a flavor. I am so used  to the salt and pepper calamari at the Seafood Palace that maybe I have become spoiled with really tender calamari. The Arrabiata Sauce is spicy and that is what is supposed to be but I personally found it too spicy for me and it did not pair well with the wine. The wine was a 2008 La Maia Lina Chianti Classico which is Sangiovese. I thought the wine was weak and did not pair well with the food. This was a big miss for me. I wonder what the Stolpman Carbonic Sangiovese would have tasted like.  Had this wine with a spicy risotto and it was a good match. Also perhaps a Grenache may have worked better or a light Zinfandel. I know a Riesling would have been great with this dish. I may have been able to handle the spicy sauce if the wine would have paired better.

Main course was a Rib Eye Steak, Roasted Cauliflower and Caramelized Onions.  Tender and cooked perfectly. The onions were very good. The cauliflower added some crunch.  A very good dish. Wine was not that great. A 2010 Stepping Stone, Napa Valley, Cabernet Franc. I prefer Cab Franc over Cabernet Sauvignon but somehow this wine did nothing for me. I poured half my glass into Maria's. Someone should enjoy it. Maybe it just me as others seem to like the wine.

Dessert was a Panna Cotta, Roasted Rhubarb and Salted Peanut Tuille.  Glad to see a light dessert served. The panna cotta is always good and the rhubarb was a surprise. Went very well together. The peanut tuille was a nice crunchy addition. A good ending to the meal.

A good dinner, hits and misses and good conversation. It was an enjoyable evening.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Baba Ghanouj

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The restaurant Baba Ghanouj was recommended by CJ as to a destination for one of Margie's wine activities. www.babaghahoujrestaurant.com,  so tonight we are doing a recon to check out the menu. Located in Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach. Parking is not the best but we all found spaces close by. Terry decided to brave it and drove himself, first time since his surgery. It will be nice to have him back into the mix of things.

Interesting little place with a definite middle eastern decor and music.. And best of all no corkage. They even have a sign outside that advertises no corkage. Small inexpensive wine list.

We started out with a few appetizers, which I can make a meal out of. Naturally you have to order the Hummus and Pita Bread. Good but not great. I have had better and have had a lot worse. Then an order of Baba Ghanouj, minced eggplant. Taste was good, not my favorite dish to order but others liked it really well. Tabouli was added to the mix. Another dish I am not over whelmed by but I was not the only one eating. Best appy was the Warak Siam, vegetable stuffed grape leaves with a yogurt sauce. Very good. And lastly an order of Sauteed Potatoes with garlic, lemon, chili, cilantro and Tahini. These spuds were good. Cj was glad we had ordered them because not being a potato person he has always passed them up when dining here. Said he would never have tried them himself.

Then on to the main dishes. we tried the Beef Skish Kabab, Shisk Taouk (chicken) and the Shrimp on a Skewer. All good. Like the shrimp best then the chicken,. Beef had good flavor was way overdone for my taste. CJ said it was ordered medium but the outside and inside were the same color.
Sides of rice with vegetables and pomegranate seeds, baked tomatoes, peppers, raw tomatoes, onions were on the table. The rice was ok but a tad dry.

A couple of desserts were ordered. The Karafe with Kashta, a shredded phyllo dough drizzled with a sweet syrup and topped with Kastha Cream. I did not taste but others said it was very good. I ordered the Ice Cream with Pistachios, Rose Water and Rose Jam. It hit the spot. Not heavy and not overly sweet.

All in all good dinner. but I would have liked to try a few of their unusual dishes. Not just kababs.

We had a mixed bag of wines. I brought a 2007 Loring, Rancho LaVina, Sta Rita Hills,  Pinot Noir which was drinking really well.

 The 2009 Copain, Kiser "En Bas", Anderson Valley,  Pinot Noir turned out to be really good. Opened up after awhile. CJ had decanted it.

 2011 Michel Torino Estate, Don David,  Capayate Valley, Argentina, Malbec. This was a bigger wine and need beef with it or lamb. It was good also.

Paul and  Margie brought a 2012 Palmina Malvasia Bianca, Santa Barbara County. This wine needed spicier food. They also had a 2004 Bernard Bremont-Millesime, Ambonnay Brut, Grand Cru, France and a 2007 Dusky Goose, Rambouillet Vineyard, Orgeon, Pinot Noir. Both these wines were excellent and went well with the Lebanese food.

A good recon and now Margie has the job of deciding what will be on the menu in a few months when we come back for a full wine dinner.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October's Wino's

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Today's theme was German Wines and Beers. Host made sausages with saukerkraut, rolls etc. Side dishes all seemed to have potatoes in them. All good. Henry did bring a nixed vegetable dish with fuzzy squash which helped on the overloaded starchy dishes. The beers were a big hit. Small gathering, a lot of people had previous commitments. Wines were decent but nothing that shook my pants off. Even the wine I brought was ok but nothing to try and remember. Someone brought home made pretzels with home made whole grain mustard. Very good. Three of the females decided to attempt the "chicken dance" which is always done at Oktoberfest's. A nice relaxing day.

The Boys and I at Seafood Palace

Monday, October 20, 2014

Five of us today at the Seafood Palace for Dim Sum, Probably the last one until December. Henry is going to Hong Kong for a couple of weeks, I will be in Avila Beach and then turkey day hits us, November will be busy. So today we cured the world of everything, made decisions on how everything should be run and solved all the problems. 3 hours of enjoyment, good food, wine and great company. The guys can be themselves with me and nothing is off limits because some female is sitting at the table. People wonder why we like it the way it is. And that is one of the big reasons. Henry doesn 't feel like he has to "host". He can sit back and enjoy. Terry was with us today. His first outing since back surgery. CJ picked him up and was taking him home. He is not into driving yet. Nice to have him back into the fold.

We started out with a dumpling filled with minced shrimp and pork and then onto the minced shrimp filled seaweed roll that is deep fried, Followed by Sweet and Sour soup which is always a big hit,

A dish of sliced scallops with snow peas, carrots and mushrooms was set on the lazy susan spinning around on the table, This dish has always been consistently good and the scallops are very fresh.

A new dish for us . A Braised filet of white fish with noodles, mushrooms,  carrots and scallions. Good flavor, very fresh, cooked perfectly. Tender and moist. Nothing left on the platter with this one.

The kitchen sent out a small dish of just made right then,  honeyed walnuts with sesame seed. This could be a very addicting dish.

Our old standby, beef with Chinese broccoli, Can never go wrong with this dish. Beef is very flavorful and very tender. Needed something for the red wines.

Another new dish for us, Kung Pao shrimp with peanuts. The shrimp was so fresh and succulent, Sauce was great

Ended the dinner with custard cups and fortune cookies

I brought a 2005 McKeon-Phillips BPR Cabernet which was showing well. Reserved but big at the same time.

A 2006 Quintessa, Rutherford, Napa Valley red blend. This was the first bottle emptied. Beautiful wine.

2010 Denner, Mother of Exiles, Blend of Cabernet, Petite Verdot, Cab Franc and Merlot. Showing well but could really be great in another couple of years.

2011 Monaasi,  Poggio Tufo, Rompicollo,. Blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet. Another good wine.

And lastly a Segura Viudas Cava. Always have to have a sparkling of some kind.

Big wines with Chinese food but somehow it seems to work. These Chinese dishes aren't sweet, they have bold flavors and everything seems to go together. I know some people disagree but we have no problem with our wines and food selections. Sometimes people can get to uppity when there is no reason to. Save me from the so called "wine snob" who thinks they know everything, but only buys because of the labels.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Martinelli Wines and The Hobbit Restaurant

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Trekked over to Hobbit in Orange for dinner tonight . www.hobbitrestaurant.com, I was surprise that it only took me 70 minutes to drive from Torrance to Orange in work traffic. Big surprise.  Six of us tonight to sample the wines and wares.

Started out in the cellar for appetizers and Champagne, the Hobbits own label.  Their appys are always top notch. Could make a meal from them alone. Checked out the wines laying in the cellar racks. They do have an extensive collection and a high price. But tonight we are having Martinelli Wines. Julie Martinelli is representing her family tonight and gave up a little run down on the history of the family. Acreage has been in the family for over a hundred years.

Kelly took numerous photos which will soon be blasted all over Facebook. I am one of the most unphotogenic people and I am sure that will show in the pictures.  I did not inherit my fathers great trait.

Dinner was being served upstairs so off we went - started out with a Crayfish Ravioli with Fennel Custard. Not a fan of fennel but this was a light touch.  Good flavor and paired very nicely with the 2010 Martinelli Road Chardonnay - a bit oaky but went well with the custard sauce.

Next plate set in front of us was a Roulade of Kurobuta Pork Loin and Black Forest Ham with a Fig Reduction. Very good flavor to the pork, not sure where the ham was but the Fig reduction as just the right touch for this dish. I did think the portion was a bit small or maybe needed a starch or another vegetable. Tasted like some spinach underneath but not a lot of it. Two wines were poured for this dish, a 2012 Martinelli Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and a 2012 Martinelli Moonshine Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River. Took awhile for the Sonoma Coast to open up but in the end I did prefer that wine over the Moonshine. Both were good but I think the Moonshine being a bit bigger could have used a couple more years before opening

Intermission was upon us so we took our wine outside the grape arbor. This gives the kitchen a chance to start the next dishes and the waitstaff an opportunity to clear up a bit. The Hobbit does take a lot of care with service.

A sorbet of blackberry and star anise was served to clean the palate. Really did like the flavor. Would have never thought to add star anise to a sorbet but it did work.

Main dish was a Wild Mushroom Stuffed Filet Mignon with Banana Squash, Haricot vert and Creme Fraiche Mash. Meat was very tender, mushrooms added just the right contrast, squash had a glaze on it and  the mash had good flavor. The green beans were added for color I suppose. There was another small vegetable on the plate. took turns trying to figure out what it was. Turned out to be a cooked radish. Very sweet. May have to try this sometime. Wine poured was a Martinellei 2012 Jackass Vineyard Zinfandel, Russian River.  Fruit comes from 100 year old vines. It was at 17.1 % alcohol. Big wine. I like Martinellis zins but I think for my palate it fell off the mark. I was not overly impressed with the wine. Other at the table liked it. I do not like big wines with dinners. I feel they can over power the food especially with a high alcohol percent.

Dessert was a Montrachet Fruit Tart - crisp dough. Custard was excellent. Paired with a 2012 Martinelli Jackass Hill Muscat of Alexandria. Not overly sweet and a nice ending to the evening.

I am beginning to suspect that all restaurants are cutting back slightly on portion size due to the high cost of meat right now. Keep the prices the same but shirnk the size.

Everyone seemed to have a good time, even Marc. Looking forward to next week. Monthly Winos, Dim Sum, Lebanese, and Delius. Makes me a happy and busy old broad

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Factory

Monday. October 13, 2014

Eight  of us gathered at the Factory Gastropub in Bixby Knolls tonight. www.thefactorylb.com,  I arrived early so I ordered a bottle of a Rioja wine and paid for it separately as the dinner tab was going to be split evenly.  I figured I would get my wine and share the bottle. Mostly beer drinkers in this crowd. A very mixed bag a food ordered. Several people ordered the Pig and Grits, which I believe was one of the dishes featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives television show. They raved about the dish. A grilled cheese sandwich which looked decadent and several hamburgers were on the table. I ordered the Bison Short Rib with Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Root Vegetables. Meat was excellent. Good flavor and very tender. Potatoes had good flavor. But again which seems to be the big trend with today's cooks,  the vegetables were still too much  on the raw side. The parsnips were good as were most of the carrots but the beets were in quarters and I could hardly cut them with my knife. I realize that people don't want "mushy" vegetables and neitner do I but I would like them cooked enough to get a fork into them.  A nice dinner, good conversation and a great time was had by all.

Two Mid Week Wine Tastings

Normally I do not post about mid week wine tastings that I do but this week I had two interesting ones.

On Tuesday, October 7, Michaels on Naples had there monthly wine tasting, www.michaelsonnaples.com  and they featured Antica Wines from Napa Valley. This is part of of the Antinori family in Italy hence the name Anti for the family name and ca for California.  "Antica". There were 4 wines featured. A 2013 Rose "Fossino",100% Pinot Noir which was very good. Dry and a creamy mouth feel to it. 2012 Chardonnay. Tad oaky but not bad. Paired very well the cheeses offered. 2012 Pinot Noir. Clean, and silky Nice wine but I do prefer other Pinots and a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Not an overly big Cab but substantial enough. The Cabernet and the Rose were my 2 favorites. Nice tasting, cheeses were good. Ordered  a "Il Piatto de Salumi Con Pane e Olive" . Otherwise Italian meats, marinated olives and grilled garlic cibatta bread. Quality as always was excellent. Weather was perfect on the rooftop.

On Friday, October 10 went to Wine Country , www.thewinecountry.com, for a Wine & Cheese pairing. They do this every year. Ten cheeses and 10 wines.  Most of the pairings were excellent. A couple missed the mark a little. I won't go through the whole list but just a few that stood out. The first pairing was a NV Maurice Vesselle Grand Cru Brut with a D'Affinois with Truffles. The bubbly was good, the cheese had a tad bit too much truffle taste for me A 2012 Domaine de Rocfontaine Saumur-Champigny with a Pilota Basque. This was a Cab Franc from Loire and very good. This to me was the best pairing and I really liked the cheese. Something I had not had before. Another very good pairing was a 2012 Ercavio Tempranillo with a Caved Aged Gruyere. Always a good event to attend. Opens you up to some new cheeses and how to pair.