Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Birthday Dinner at "A" Restaurant

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Susan and I met at "A" restaurant in Newport Beach for dinner.  On Sundays they offer the
industry" half off all food. Since Susan sells them wine it makes a really cheap dining experience.  She usually brings several bottles of wine but her selections this time were not good.  I stuck with my cocktail. 

I ordered the Branzino and she had the Diver Scallops over Lobster Risotto.  They comped us a plate of Salmon Tartare  which was excellent.

For dessert the kitchen was experimenting with some new dishes. So we were brought two huge dishes of various desserts. I will say all but one was not that good and I would not pay for it. But for free we did taste. Not impressed. Back to the drawing board. 

The Depot and Tercero Wines

Friday, February 9, 2018

Larry Schaffer, owner and winemaker at Tercero Wines  teamed up with Chef Shafer of The Depot in Torrance for a dinner tonight. Reception began at 6:30 with passed appetizers of Ahi Tuna Tartare, Fried Oysters and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.  After numerous appetizers I could had called it quits. All were very good and the restaurant was very generous in the number they served you.   two wines were poured a 2014 Grenache Blanc and the 2013 Mouvedre Rose.

We seated in the back room which looks like a converted patio area from the original train depot. Cold and drafty and very, very noisy. Open seating but they did manage to get a small table for the 3 of us so we could sit together.

Next was a Shrimp and Kimchee Fried Rice. Served in a small Chinese take out box.  Shrimp were very tender and the rice was very good.  Paired with a 2014 Thhe Outlier, dry Gewurztraimer. This wine lends itself to spicy food. But what the winery has is the last of it as the vineyards were pulled and another variety planted.

A salad of beets, avocado,  mango, Meyer Lemon Oil and goat cheese was the hit of the evening. Loads of flavor. I was surprise that a 2013 Mouvedre  was paired with it. The wine is big. seemed to go ok with the dish. Not sure what else I might have paired with the beets.

Main course was Grilled Hanger Steak with braised onions, loads of mushrooms and brussel sprouts.  I felt the steak was a bit on the "tough" side. Hard to cut and chewy.  Not much flavor to it.   A 2013 Larner Syrah was the choice of wine.  Very nice syrah.

A trio of 3 desserts was set down. All good but it was overkill. 

I was glad to get into my quiet car for the drive home.  The dining area was so noisy. Some of the main dining area could have been used as they were not that busy tonight.

Chateaubriand and Old Wine Dinner

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Normally I do not post to much about private dinners even if wine is involved.  But tonight's dinner was such a disappointment.  9 of us gathered for a "French Country Dinner" with the main course being Chateaubriand. Numerous old wines were poured including  1983 Chateau D'Anglude, Margux,  1989 Chateau 'Arrose, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe, 1997 Chateau Grand Mayne, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe2009 Louise Brisco Brut Champagne ,  2003 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, a  1995 Calon-Segur Saint-Estephe, Grand Cru Classe, 1996 Taylor Fladgate Very Old Single Harvest Port. Beautiful wines.

But the food itself was such a disappointment. The host is the "king of the microwave".  Everything was a  bought pre-prepared item and zapped in the microwave before serving.  Microwave food does not hold its heat well. By time it got to your plate it was cool, not even warm.    It is a no brainer to roast vegetables in the oven.  The meat  also was cool and no juices running from it so I am not sure how it was cooked.   To go to that much work, time and effort and have cold food served to your guests is something I just cannot understand. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Dinner at Delius

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sold out tonight for the Prix Fixe dinner at Delius.  www.deliusrestaurant.com  Had not done a prix fixe in many months.  Was not thrilled with the chef at that time.  A new "chef de cuisine"  has been hired. Time to try it out again. 

Ordered a bottle of bubbly to share. It was cheaper than ordering 4 glasses of bubbly.

We started out with a Double Baked Goat Cheese Souffle with Melted Leek Sauce. Very good. I could  have eaten two of them easily.  Wine paired with this dish was a 2016 Linen, Walla Walla, WA, Sauvignon Blanc. I did like this wine. Not to acidic as most sau blancs are.  None of us had heard of any of the wines being poured tonight.

Second course was a Roasted Curried Cauliflower Soup with Spiced Croutons. Nice flavor but would have liked just a bit more spice to it.  Paired with a 2015 Sean Minor , Central Coast, Chardonnay. This wine I was not a big fan of. It wasn't that oaky but it just had a strange taste to me. Let others at the table have the wine. It just was not my style of wine. Others at the table liked it. 

The absolute worse wine I have tasted was poured. A 2015 Locations, France, Rose. How this got to the dinner I will never understand.  After researching this wine I found out the owner winemaker is Dave Phinney. I had had his wines before an they were good.  But this Rose did not make the cut.  Paired with a White Fish Tagine and Roasted Purple Potatoes. Flavorful and good.  Others felt it needed more of a sauce on it.

Main course is a Beef Wellington, Parsnip and Potato Puree, Wild Mushroom and Thyme Ragout.  My meat was cooked perfectly. Dish had overall good flavor although I felt it needed a bit of salt. A 2015 Rose and Son, California, Red Blend was the wine selection. Went ok with the meat. Found out that this wine is made by Coquelicot which I am not a fan of.

Dessert was odd.  Chocolate Financier Cake with Spiced Apple Butter and Cardamom, Pear Sorbet. The sorbet was a bit grainy, like the pears were not pureed enough or perhaps it was meant to be that way. Flavor was good bit an odd sensation in the mouth. I found the cake a bit on the dry side by itself. It needed the apple butter and sorbet to help.

Greg ordered a port for the finale. Topped off the dinner nicely. Food was good but not up to what I have had at Delius in the past. . As I understand the recipes were Executive Chefs and she helped with the start the dinner.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Back to The Seafood Palace

Monday. January 22, 2018

My first Dim Sum with the boys at the Seafood Palace in Westminister.  The boys did one a few weeks ago but I was unable to attend. Today for some reason we ended up at a small table so with 4 of us and all our wine bottles and glasses it was a tight fit.

Started out with a couple of items off the cart.  Stickey rice with Chinese sausage wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed and a shrimp and pork mixture wrapped in seaweed and deep fried. 

Then onto a nice hot bowl of the sweet sour soup.  It was a bit cold today so that really did the trick. Maybe that is why it was served early in the meal.

Next we had a white fish with garlic green beans. We have not this dish in awhile. I forgot how good it was. Fish was cooked perfectly and sauteed with the beans. Great flavor.

A plate of skinny rice noodles, stir fried with chicken and salted fish was next.  We had this a few times before. Good but not very filling and I don't think has that much flavor today. Maybe different cook, who knows. 

Last dish of the day was beef with Chinese broccoli and oyster sauce. This today was very good. Loads of flavor.

We topped out the lunch with egg tarts that were still slightly warm and fortune cookies. I no future because my cookie was a dud. No fortune paper in it. Guess that is the end of my future.

Prices have increased slightly since the first of the year. But that is the norm with everything right now.  But this is still a big bargain. With tax and  a hefty tip $13  person.

Wines today were an odd assortment. I brought a 2010 AP Vin, Grays Vineyard, Pinot Noir. Seemed to be the hit alongside a 2014 Schafer-Frolich, Troken, Blanc de Noir.  The two others seemed out of place. 2014 Franciscan, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2012 Tintorge, Mondoza, Malbec. 

Hopefully we will be doing another Monday Dim Sum soon.  Maybe next week.

Friday, January 19, 2018


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dine in LA week is up again and we decide to go to Melisse in Santa Monica. A new restaurant for me but others had been there numerous times. The special prix fixe menu ran $99 plus.  No wines included. The only way I can do these type of dinners is when Dine In LA Week is on. 

Melisse is a very comfortable, art deco inspired restaurant.  Lots of black and white. I noticed that almost all the tables and booths are set for 4 people. There was one larger table in the middle under a drop light that was set for 6.  They had small upholstered stools to set your purses on. The start up service was excellent.  The sommelier carried his tasting cup with him and used it to taste the bottle we ordered off the menu. It has been awhile since I have seen that done.

We started out with Dungeness crab, sorrel, horseradish, jicama and salmon pearls (caviar) amuse bouche. Flavors were excellent.  This was served to everyone having the special dinner.

For the next course I chose the Yuzu scented wild New Zealand snapper with celtuce (celery like) Fugu persimmon, radish and uni.  Snapper was raw and very thinly sliced with the rest of the ingredients piled on top. Beautiful presentation and the flavors again were excellent.

The third course I chose was a white fish, escarole, parsnip, chanterelles, fennel and apple broth. Forgot what they said the  fish was but it was cooked perfectly with a nice crisp skin. Again presentation and taste were spot on.

Main course for me was farm raised Millbrook Farms vension. Three different cuts of vension with red beets, red cabbage, pears and foie gras sauce..  This is farm raised venison so there were no gamey flavors here. Sauce was rich and decadent.  The presentation and taste were like the other dishes. No complaints about that at all.

Dessert was served on a small cup with a disc of melted sugar that had hardened on top. Inside was orange, kiwi and white chocolate. Also a tray of "mini" cookies.

Other dishes offered on this menu were poached egg with caviar. Add $25  Risotto with shaved black truffles. Add $50. A potato leek soup with oyster. Wagu beef.

We ordered a bottle a Godme Pere et Fils, Verzenay, Grand Cru Brut Rose. Stan brought a 2004 Bollinger La Grande Animee Rose Brut. Bob provided a 2001 Chateau Lynch Bages, Paulliac and I had a 2009 Roar, Pison Vineyards Pinot.  All wines were excellent and we finished all 4 bottles ( have no idea how much was "tasted" by the sommelier in the back room).   The Lynch Bages was decanted and still took a few hours to blossom.

Service to begin with was excellent. but as the evening went on the service went off.  The kept the our bottles away from the table. At first they were really good about keeping the glasses topped off but then we had to start  looking around for the waiter. The sommelier was long gone taking care of others. Our glasses sat empty for way to long.  

Corkage is $50 per bottle for the first two bottles and then $75 a bottle after that. If you buy a bottle off their wine list then you do get one bottle of your own at no corkage.  So my $99 dinner special cost me $200 with tax and tip.

The owner / chef Josiah Citrin came around to check on us. Nice touch. At least he was interested in his guests.

In comparing Providence which I have done on 3 separate Dine in LA weeks  I will give the nod to Providence.   Melisse's  ambiance is definitely better.  But I prefer the food and the service at Providence.  Both restaurants are out of my league for regular dining.

For my next Dine in LA week we might try Spago's.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

If it is January then it is time for India Grill

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Time to go back to the India Grill in Los Alamitos.  This is the first of Margie's dinners for the new year.  Big turnout for this dinner. We took up two large tables.

Started out with two appetizers, Vegetables Pokoras and Onion Bhaji.  Both very good. Nice and hot so you could get all the flavors they offered. When these cool down they lose a lot flavor and become limp.

Main entrees included Chicken Tikka Masala which I found the chicken to be way too dry for me. Sauce was a bit thin. Not up to their normal quality.  Shrimp Saag was decent but again the shrimp were a bit over cooked. Two best dishes were the Vegetable Chau Chau and the Lamb Vindaloo.  I wonder perhaps if they have a different chef. Something just was off tonight.  Rounded out with Basmati Rice and Garlic Naan.

Dessert was Kufi which is a Pistachio ice cream with saffron, cardamon  and nuts. CJ who was born in India said he did not think this dish was authentic. Said it tasted too commercial

25 wines for 20 people. I like those odds but with so many wines you can only taste so many. I stuck with mostly sparklings. 

I brought a 2010 Sinor-Lavalle, Aubaine, Pinot Noir which was showing very well and a 2015 Zorah, Voskeat & Garandmark from Armenia. I bought this wines because of the grape varietals. Turned out to be very good. Chenin Blanc style with a very soft peach/pear flavor.

NV   Segura Viudas, Cava - always a good choice
2015 Rascal Pinot Gris - did not taste  (two bottles brought)
2016 Tillman Rose - did not taste
2016 Weins, Reserve Pinot - did not taste
2013 Clairborne & Churchill, Dry Riesling - very good
2015 Derby, Rose - did not taste
2015 Albrecht Riesling -  good
NV   Albrecht Reserve Rose Sparkling - always good
2014 Stags Leap, Karia Vineyard, Chardonnay - did not taste
2015 Penner Ash, Zena Crown, Pinot Noir - did not like, way to young
NV   14 Hands, Columbia Valley Brut - nice
NV   Quartz Reef, Brut - nice
2014 Hermann J. Weiner, Gewurztraminer - did not taste
2016 Castella di Amorosa, Gewurztraimer - did not taste
2014 Dr. Erdener, Riesling Spatlese - good
2015 Bodegas Breca, Grenache de Fuego, Rose - did not taste
2013 Evening Land Pinot Noir - did not taste
2014 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon - did not taste
2014 Lando Pinot Noir - nice but again too young
2014 Miraval, Rose - very good
2016 Ponzi Pinot Gris - did not taste
NV   Schramsberg, Blanc de Blanc - again always good