Thursday, April 12, 2018

Stephen Ross Wine Dinner at Taste

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Taste restaurant in Long Beach,, hosted a wine dinner tonight with Stephen Ross wines from the San Luis Obispo area. When I have been in the Edna Valley wine tasting I have seen the signs for the winery but never visited. It is at the far end of the Edna Valley and I usually leave before I get that far. They have a vineyard but source most of their grapes from others.

I was pleasantly surprised how much I did like his wines. So much so I did buy a few bottles which is something I don't do too often at wine dinners. 

We started out with a 2016 Albarino from the Spanish Spring Vineyard, which was just my style. It was a perfect match to the Spicy Thai style fried rice. the rice had carrots, fresno chilies, scallion, shallot and lime and was topped with an organic quail egg. Dish had a slight bite to it but flavor was very good. I thought the quail egg was slightly over cooked by a few seconds.

Second course was a Grilled Octopus salad with warm herbed fingerling potatoes, arugula, shaved celery and pickled red onions. The octopus had a slight fishy taste to it which was a first for me. usually I don't get that. But it was cooked nicely and very tender. The potatoes were great. A 2014 Edna Valley Chardonnay. Nice nose but a bit oaky for me. It did pair well the the food.

Third course is a Braised Duck Ragu with torchiette pasta, shaved parmesan and sauteed mushrooms. Excellent flavor but I would have liked to see less pasta in the mix. Pasta fills you up quickly. But the ragu was wonderful along with the wine. A 2014 Santa Lucia Highlands, Olson Ranch, Pinot Noir. A very well made Pinot, bright fruit, soft mouth feel and a burgundian style. 

Main dish is a Slow Roasted Pork Short Ribs with a creamy smoked polenta and grilled sweet peppers. I had two bites of the meal and had it packed to go. The pasta in the previous dish filled me up. What I tasted was excellent. Good flavor, tender meat. Wine was just as good. A 2015 Dante Dusi Vineyard, Zinfandel was the choice. This was a great Zin. Slight pepper, spice but still jammy without being over.

Dessert was a Rose Spiked Cheesecake with macerated strawberries, coriander and toasted almonds. Not sweet but rich. Paired with a 2017 Edna Valley Rose of Pinot Noir.  This was the only wine that I did not care for. It had a flowery note to it and just was not my style of Rose.

Taste is now getting all the vegetables from a organic garden in Long Beach. They do not sell retail. The two owners of the gardens , Roy and Adam were seated next to us. They also provided the organic quail eggs.

A fun evening. Kathy and Janice was there celebrating Jan's birthday. Hope to see them at the upcoming Stolpman dinner. This was their first wine dinner at Taste although they do dine there often.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sunday With The Boys

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Normally the boys and I do Dim Sum on Mondays at the Seafood Palace. but with CJ starting to work again we need to change our schedule a bit.  So we opted for Dim Sum on Sunday.  But it seems that the Dim Sum cooks are on vacation right now and there are no replacements. Seems that good Dim Sum cooks are very highly regarded and restaurants don't want to alienate them by stand ins. Seafood Palace only has one set of Dim Sum cooks and they are went on vacation at the same time.   So it was lunch.

Only 4 of us today but we nabbed a large table for our bottles and wine paraphernalia. 

 Started out with Salt and  Pepper Calamari which is one of my favorites. But was I disappointed. Calamari were not nearly as tender as they have been in the past and the salt and pepper were definitely missing.

The Honey Walnut Shrimp was excellent. Just as it should be. Very flavorful and tender and very large shrimp.

Our complimentary bowl of sweet sour soup arrived. A bit  more spicy than normal.

A platter of Cantonese style beef with fat noodles and baby bok choy was served. Good dish. Meat was tender and full of flavor  I am partial to fat noodles so I was happy.

Last dish was sauteed scallops with mushrooms, snow peas, carrots, garlic and ginger. Scallops were very tender, the garlic was good but a bit too much ginger for me.

We wanted lobster but the smallest one they had was 4 pounds and at $17 a pound we opted out.

I brought a 2012 Dragonette, Fiddlestix Vineyard, Pinot Noir. Good but I was expecting a bit more.

2016 Elouan, Oregon, Pinot Noir - too young.

2015 Biecher-Schaal. Grand Cru, Alsace, Riesling - excellent wine.,  Bet it could lay down for 20 years. This was the hit of the day for me.

2004 BV Tapestry.  Nice fruit, no tannins, soft, plush mouthfeel.  It had been decanted for 8 hours. But maybe that long decanting took away from the wine. It did not evolve in the glass. Just stayed the same

So another outing with the boys.  May have to start doing lunch on Sundays now.

April's Dinner at Prime Cut

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Margie's selection for dinner this month is Prime Cut in Orange.  It has been a few years since we have been here.  The private room is small so only 13 of us tonight. 

Most ordered some type of steak or prime rib. I had the Australian Sea Bass.   I will say I was slightly disappointed in the dish. I felt the fish had been overcooked, the mashed potatoes had  no flavor. Just didn't quite make the grade. I have had fish here before and it was never a problem.  The Tomato Basil Cream soup was a hit. Full of flavor and the right consistency.  Almost wish I had order a meat dish.

A really mixed bag of wines tonight.  A Jeroboam of a 21012 Brutocao, Mendocino, Cabernet Sauvignon was brought.  A Jeroboam is equal to 4 bottles.  This bottle was not close to being ready to drink. Give it at least 4 to 5 more years. I drank mostly sparklings and white wines because of having fish. Drank my Pinot Noir and had a couple of taste of a few other reds. I can say I wasn't really overwhelmed with the quality of wines. Could have been my personal taste buds.

I brought a pair of Clos Pepe, Sta. Rita Hills wines. A 2011 Estate Pinot Noir and a 2012 HTC Chardonnay. No oak in the chard. Both were drinking nicely

Other wines on the table were:

2013 Iron Horse, Sonoma, Vintage Brut - nice sparkling but a bit acidic

2015 Turley, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon - did not taste

2014 Merry Edwards, Olivet Lane, RRV, Chardonnay - clean, nice drinking

2014 Soda Rock, Chalkhill, Primitivo - did not taste

2014 Weins, Temecula Valley, Reserve, Cabernet Franc - did not taste

2015 Markham, Napa Valley, Merlot - did not taste

2014 Robert Hall, Paso Robles, Cabernet Sauvignon - did not taste

2013 Tablas Creek, Paso Robles, Panoplie - did not taste

2014 Chateau de Chantegrive, France - not impressed

2015 Fesstivity, Sta Rita Hills, Brut Cuvee -  a nice sparkling

2015 Talley, Edna Valley, Olivers Vineyard, Chardonnay - a bit oaky for my taste

2014 Addendum, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon - did not taste

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Moffett Wines at Delius Restaurant

Saturday, March 29, 2018

First wine dinner at Delius,, under the new Chef de Cusine, John McLaughlin.   John owned the At Last Cafe in Long Beach for numerous years before closing it.  John's style of cooking is more "homey" than what we are used to at Delius but it is going to be an interesting year to see how the two styles finally blend together.

Trent Moffett owner of Moffett Family Wines was our host tonight. This was a new label for me. Originally it was Livingston-Moffett Wines but there was an issue with Gallo Wines over the name Livingston. Based on Oregon but they also access wine from Napa. Small production, probably less than a thousand cases total a year.  I found the wines made more in a California style than Oregon.

We started out with a Sweet Corn Bilini with Grilled Jumbo Shrimp.  Blini was nice, shrimp was just 20 seconds overcooked., but good flavor. Paired with a 2016 Rose of Pinot Noir, Yamhill, McMinnville/Carlton,  Oregon. Production of 164 cases. $28. Wine was very light in style and taste.

Second course is a Seared Atlantic Salmon with Roasted Potatoes.  Fish was cooked perfectly, nice crispy skin, potatoes were nice and crusty without being overdone. This was my favorite dish of the evening. A duo of wines was paired. 2016 Pinot Noir, Pommard Clone, Dundee Hills, Oregon. $50.  24 cases. And a 2016 Pinot Noir. Dijon 115 Clone, Dundee Hills, Oregon. 24 cases. $50.  I preferred the Dijon clone. 

Next is a Aged Venison Loin with Sauteed Mushroom Medley. Flavor was nice but I have had better vension at Delius before.  Others really liked it. . Don't know if it was the cut of meat or what. The duo of wines with this course is a 2012 Syrah, (6% Viognier), Oak Knoll, Napa, California. 22 cases. $50.  And a 2012 Syrah, (100%)  Oak Knoll, Napa, California. 22 cases. $50.

Fourth course is a Prime Cut Rib Eye Steak with a Cabernet Reduction.  Paired with a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mtn/St Helena, Napa, California. 74 cases. $75. Steak was excellent.

Dessert was a Rhubarb-Strawberry Crumble with house made vanilla ice cream. 

All in all a very good dinner with good wines.  Looking forward to the Tercero dinner next month.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Red Car Wine dinner at Chianina

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

This was a new wine label for me. I had never heard of them before. But I will say I enjoyed their wines far more than the Duckhorn wines at last months dinner.

We started out with a selection of canapes. Scallop chips, Crab Roll, Oysters on the half shell and Fried Pork Foie Terrine. All very good but I was really partial to the Pork Foie Terrine.  Paired with a 2016 Rose of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. Very light and it grew on you the more you tasted.

Second course is a Tasmanian Ocean Trout with English Peas, Fava Beans and Madras Curry. This dish was excellent. The Ocean Trout is similar in texture and taste to salmon. Skin was crispy. The accompaniments  were perfect for the fish.  A 2103 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast was the wine selected. I did detect a very slight oak taste. Turned out to 3% in new French Oak barrels and the remainder in neutral. Very good chardonnay.

Next was Nettle Cavatelli, Slow Cooked Egg, Grana Cheese and Crispy Pancetta. Flavors were wonderful but somehow I just cannot get into Cavatelli. I think it is because it is too dense. I prefer Gnocchi.  served with a 2014 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. Good wine.

Fourth course is a Superior Farms Lamb Ribeye, Green Garlic Sauce, Asparagus and Morrell Mushroom. Meat was perfect. . Wine was the best of the evening. A 2014 Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview. This was a really beautiful wine. A very good pairing.

Fifth course is a Chianina Ribeye, Spring Onion, Roasted Potatoes, Bacon and Black Truffle. Again a great dish. Paired with a 2012 Syrah, Fort Ross-Seaview. 

Dessert was a Passionfruit Sorbet with Vanilla Crumble. A perfect ending to a heavy meal.

All the food was excellent. They did a great job on this dinner. Only negative was that the Salted Honey Rolls fell flat. Did not taste salt on them at all and that is what really make this roll taste good. 

This dinner was not sold out which is too bad. It was so far superior to the Duckhorn dinner in food and wine. Negative was that the winery owner did not visit out table. We had a wine rep that two a sort time and that was it. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Playground and "What Jeff Learned in Spain"

Tuesday, March 14, 2018

Another sold out dinner at the Playground 2.0 Room in Santa Ana. Of course the 2.0 room only holds 18.  The Chef de Cuisine, Jeffery, from the Playground walk in restaurant was our chef tonight instead of the owner Jason Quinn. Jeffery had been in Spain recently and this dinner was what "he learned"..  There was not one dish that I did not like and a few I was overly surprised at.  We started out with a "Backwards Spanish Manhattan".  Delicious , I could drink a lot of these and then not be able to walk.

We had a bowl of Spiced Marcona Almonds and a bowl of Carmona Mixed Olives. Went well with the Manhattan. 

Then a plate of Pan De Cristal con Tomate.  Bread with a juicy tomato topping, grilled. Odd flavor, it would take getting used to but 1 ate a couple of pieces Then a bowl of  "Quesco picon stuffed Gordo olives. Cheese stuffed gigantic olives. Followed by a plate of cured Rib Eye that was so good. That could have been my entire meal. Extremely thin sliced rib eye. Wonderful flavor. Followed by some cured Spanish meats. Found out that they did source the cured meats (not the rib eye) from La Espanola in Harbor City. 5 minutes from where I work. I pop in occasionally and get a sandwich from the deli. La Espanola cures their meats and make there own sausages. They do a huge mail order business of true Spanish products.

There was a dish served that was not listed on the chefs list (which he gave me so I did not have to write everything down.  The list has "Tortilla Espnaol" but we were served small squares of something with an aioli and type of pole bean. So I have no idea what it was but I remember it was really good. We were served 17 courses in total. Looking up "tortilla espanol" does not show what we were ate.

One of the best dishes of the night was a sauteed chicken liver, sangria soaked  fruits and romesco sauce.  This dish was outstanding.  We also had battered and  fried artichoke hearts with a saffron aioli which I went overboard on and a Gamba al ajillo. Traditional Spanish dish, heads on shrimp with garlic. Extreme garlic.

A small cast iron skillet held "Peas in Carta Fata Paper and Ham Broth. Very small "mini"peas in a  paper bag with red peppers and  ham broth and cooked in the skillet. Loads of flavor.  Along with  grilled octopus (perfectly cooked) with Poncha beans and choricero.

A salad of arugula,  mojama, baby tomatoes and cava vinegar helped clean the palate.

Next was house made Butifarra (sausage) with Catalan spinach and pine nuts. Then a dish of Creamy Bomba Rice with mushrooms, mushroom puree and manchego. To die for.

Pulling up the end of the meal we had a cheese plate with Membrillo, Quesco Payayo, and Quesco Urgeli.

Dessert was a simple Orange curd with a red wine syrup and small slices of fresh orange on top.

Besides the cocktail at the beginning we were served a 2016 Talai Berri, Txakolina, A NV Raul Perez,  Atalier, Ria Baixas, 2016 Quim Batlle, Foranell, Picapoul, Alella,  2011 Raul Perez, Rara Avis, Albarin, Castilla Y Leon, 2015 Planetes de Nin, Pirot and a Bodegas Tradicion, Pedro Ximemez VOS 20 years, Jerez.  

Another great dinner at The Playgound.  Must go online and see what is coming up that I just have to do.

Dragonette Wine Dinner at Taste

Monday, March 12, 2018

Wine dinners are starting with all the local restaurants. There seems to be a season just and after and just before the holidays. Usually on the first days of the week so not to interfere with the weekend diners. Tonight it was at Taste in Long Beach. .  And  Dragonette Wines. The tasting room is in Los Olivos and they source their grapes from Sta Rita Hills and the Santa Ynez Valley area.  John Dragonette was in attendance. Sold out dinner tonight so the restaurant was extremely noisy. Dinner was scheduled for 6:30. Did not get a glass of wine poured until after 7:00

Started out with a Grilled Gem lettuce salad, heirloom baby beets, charred goat cheese medallion, pistachios and a creamy lemon-garlic dressing. Pulled aside several grilled romaine leaves. Was not that appetizing to me. The dressing was excellent as were the beets.   Wine was a 2017 Happy Canyon Grenache Rose.  This wine had only been bottles a few weeks before and it showed. Personally I don't think they should have poured it. Still in bottle shock and did not show well as it would in a couple of months.

Second course is a Crispy Potato Wrapped Salmon with sauteed spinach and red wine mushroom sauce. Again a excellent dish. Salmon was cooked just right. A 2015 Radian Vineyard Pinot Noir was paired. Big wine. I  tasted it at the Wine and  Fire in August.  I am starting to really like the  Radian vineyards fruit. Needs some time.

Next is a Seared Scallop Raviolio with carmelized onion soubise, basil, blistered tomatoes along with a Cast Iron Duck Breast, wilted swiss chard, tart cherry sauce and confit turnips. No complaints at all about the food. The chef, Brad Neumann  does and excellent job. A 2015 and 2016 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir was served. Blend of Radian, LaEncantada, Fiddlestick, Cargassachi, Duvarita and Sebastiano grapes.  I preferred the 2015. It had a year more aging. I don't think the 2016 should have been poured. It is only 2 years old and needs a few more years on it. But I find at wine dinners they do pour newer wines because that is what they want to sell you. 

Last course was a Mixed Roasted Root Vegetable Tart, puff pastry, ricotta and rosemary along with Roasted Elk Loin, smoked carrots, carmelized shallot puree and black pepper wine sauce. I had not had elk since the mid 1970's. I forgot how good it is.  Both dishes gain were excellent. Paired with a 2012 and 2014 Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir. The 2012 was a big disappointment. Not much can be said about it because it just wasn't there.

They gave each of us a box of cookies to take home instead of serving dessert.