Thursday, January 19, 2017

Back to Providence

Sunday, January 15, 2017

It is "Dine in LA Week" again so back to Providence. www.providencela.com . It is the only time I can afford this restaurant. Special dinner set up at $99 plus tax and  tip.  Got out of here tonight for $180. Had to share the corkage and contribute to the cost of Stan's wine he brought. A 2006 Moet Chandon, Grand Vintage and a 2007 Calera, Selleck Vineyard, Mt. Harlan, Pinot Noir.  Both excellent wines.

The restaurant itself seems small and dark but they have numerous dining areas. The bar is small . 6 seats but this is not a place where you go to drink. I did have a cocktail made with kumquats while waiting for our dining companions.  It was excellent. But at $14 it should be. Service is beyond what you would expect. Large staff.  No one rushes you. They don't start clearing the plates until everyone at the table is finished.  It is easy to see why it was given a Michelin 2 star rating.

Their regular menu, which is all "tasting"  menus runs from $120 with wine $165, $185 with wine $270, $220 with wine $325.  Plus everyone in the party must order the same menu.  Corkage is $50 per bottle. So you would only bring a really good wine here. And never bring a wine they have on their wine list. 

Again we were offered the "Chef's Table" so we could watch the kitchen staff prepare the plates. Also it is private and quiet. Could seat 5 or 6 in a pinch.   And again we received numerous "amuse's" over the set menu.

Started out with a Pisco Bubble. Don't know how they make the bubble but put in your mouth and the bubble melts and the Pisco flows out. Scallop Tacos,  diced scallops with wasabi and rice craker in a folded Nasturtium leaf.  Then onto crab folded into a very thinly sliced piece of radish set in a crab shell on a bed of ice.  A  chocolate mousse , topped with  bit of cherry pudding , a drop of champagne anglaise on top of a buckwheat round. Black mussel  on  foccacia toast with wood sorrel mushrooms, herbs and garlic.  A black mussel soup with foam served in a small glass. All this followed by the "Cigar Box"  Grade 5 Wagu beef wrapped around a buckwheat thin and filled with a sour plum aioli  Shaped like a cigar and presented in a an old vintage cigar box.

This was just  the amuse's.  Now onto dinner which I hope I can finish

Striped Bass Sashimi,  pomegranate,  ruby red grapefruit, ume.

 Nancy's Day Boat Sea Scallop., buckwheat, parsnip and pepitas.  

Striped Bass with tiny vegetables no bigger than peas. Carrots, beets, peas, turnips and thin slices of black truffle in a truffle bouillon.

A tray of breads were passed .I really likes the brioche and the seaweed foccacia.  All served with Normandy butter.

Dessert as "Fallen Branch",. looked like a branch with bark falling away filled with a chocolate grenache on a bed of anglaise and illanke. Followed by a plate of macaroons. Different flavors. Did not note what they were and did not taste because I was so full.  

 I need a better way of keeping track of what they are serving. I don't want to spend on my time keeping notes and not eating. I am sure some of these descriptions need to edited.

Providence is one of the highest rated restaurants in Los Angeles. You pay for the impeccable service and great food. But once a year is a real treat for me.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

India Grill

Saturday, January 14, 2017

  December was a short month for activities.  Had a few people in just before the holiday. Did that instead of my large Christmas Brunch.  Time to weed out people that don't reciprocate.  So now after the lull it is time to get back with the socialization. Starting with tonight I have 5 events this week.  Providence, Seafood Palace, Sterling Wine Dinner at Arte CafĂ©, Commuter Tasting at Delius. That will keep me busy. Need to start cutting back but that it is easier to talk about it than do it.

This was Margie's first scheduled dinner of the year. Back to India Grill in Los Alamitos. Large crowd, 21 people and had to split between two tables. I personally don't like these large number of people events.  Way to hard to socialize with everyone. Of course there are some people I don't care to socialize with. So maybe it's better to have them separate from me. I may have to re-think my thinking on this one.  This was not my best foot forward tonight. Had two bouts of acid reflux close together and it really did me in. I was drained.

We started out with the traditional Samosa's but tonight it seems like everything will taste spicier than normal. Also fried cheese. I did not get a menu at my place setting so I am winging this.

The main dishes staring arriving. The Rogan Josh was very good tonight. Lamb was not too overcooked for me. These ethnic restaurants seem to really overcook meat. Mainly because the meat in their countries is usually poor quality and they have a lot of diseases with their animals. And I like rare meat. Matter or personal taste. 

Mango Chicken  was brought out. I could not tell the difference in it and the Tiki Masala. My senses are way off tonight.  Vegetables Korma tasted good but the Shrimp Chau Chau to me was inedible. It was  too spicy.

Garlic Naan and  Basmati Rice rounded out the menu.  We topped it off with Pistachio Ice Cream with Saffron, Cardamon and nuts.

The wines were a huge mish mash. Majority of them I never saw on the table and did not taste. Margie did not do her "move the wines down the table" tonight. So the wines stayed in place unless you wanted to get up and walk around.

The best wines of the evening that I did get to taste was the wine I brought, a 2009 Pisoni, SLH, Pinot Noir, 2006  Dierberg SMV, Pinot Noir, 2011 Two Hands, Barossa Valley, Shiraz and  NV Albrecht, Cremant.

The rest of the group included:

NV   Wilson Creek Almond Sparkling - what can I say
2012 Anne de K Alsace, Pinot Gris - not my favorite grape
2012 Cana, Virginia, Cabernet Franc - Decent, nice balance but needed a few more years cellaring
2014 Chateau St. Michelle Riesling - had this wine too many times, did not need to try it again
2015 Boonthing, Anderson Valley, Pinot Noir - very light, typical northern California Pinot - nice
2015 Neethlingshot, Pinotage - typical African dirt taste to it - you knew it was a Pinotage - nice
2015 Jadot. Beaujolais - Gamay is not my grape - did not taste
2013 Eveningland, Amity Hills, Pinot Noir - had a very small taste wasn't impressed with it any more that I was my last two Eveningland Wines
2012 Axis Mundi, Blend - did not taste - I know what it is as I have some for every day drinking
2014 Hall, Sauvignon Blanc - did not taste
NV   Mumm Moulin a Vent Rose - did not taste
2012 Missing Leg, Pinot Noir - did not taste
2013 Swedish Hill, Gewurztraminer - did not taste
2011 Navarro, Gewurztraminer - did not taste
2011 Samsara, Grenache Rose - did not taste
2015 Tablas Creek, Rose -  did not taste - I am sure it was cloying sweet like the other Tablas Creek Roses
2009 Chateau Frank, Blanc de Noirs - I am not sure if I tasted this one or not
NV   Herzog Blanc de Blanc - nice clean flavor
2014 Hursch, Gerwurztraminer -  did not taste

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Beringer Wine at Arte Cafe

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Unusual to have  a restaurant host a wine dinner so close to the holidays but tonight Arte Cafe was full with both dining areas being used.  www.artecafe.com.

Started out with 3 glasses of the Beringer Napa Chardonnay. A tad oaky but not that undrinkable. They served this with a  Diver Scallop, cooked perfectly, and Pistachio nut cream sauce Very good dish.

Next up was a Scottish Salmon wrap with braised leeks and potatoes in a creamy vanilla sauce. This again was an excellent dish. Salmon was moist and wrapped with thin slices of potatoes. Paired with a Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay. Not as oaky as the first wine. Went well with the dish. Only had two glasses of this wine.  They are very generous tonight with their wine pours.

Third course is a Lamb Shank Ossobuco . Lamb was very tender and slid right off the bone. Good flavor A Beringer, Knights Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon was the wine choice. Again two glasses. A good pairing.

Main course I did not eat. Had them box it up for me to take home. I had reached the saturation point.  It was a Petite Filet with pearl onions and fingerling potatoes. Watching the others eat it looked very good. Cooked medium rare and was very tender by the way the knife cut through it. Pain getting old and cannot indulge like I used to. But I just cannot force myself to keep eating after I reach a certain point.  They paired a Beringer Quantum red blend (bordeaux). This was a very good wine. It was chewy and talked to you. Another two glasses. I ended up splitting a six pack. Priced very well.

Dessert was just what I like. A Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream. Just enough to cleanse the palate and not enough to fill you up.

So the food was very good tonight. Service was better than it usually is. And even the wine nazi server was more generous than usual. Maybe because  it's the holiday season and it  is rubbing off on people Nice evening, good dining companion. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dinner for 12 at the Seafood Palace.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016.

People have been asking when Henry would be doing another dinner at the Seafood Palace. We have not had one in a couple of years for a larger group.  We decided to keep the dinner to two tables of six. Better conversation and more room for wine and glasses.  Henry did the menu so everything was in place when we arrived. No arguing about what to order.

We started out with Salt & Pepper Calamari, one of my favorites and Honey Walnut Shrimp. Two good classic dishes.

Then onto a bowl of the spicy, sour soup. Cold evening so that fit in nicely. Then the platters of Peking Duck arrived. One of the better ducks I have had, Cooked perfectly, moist with crisp skin. The table next to us must have exceptionally hungry because there was not a bite left on the platter.

Next dish was extra good also. Stir Fried Steak, French Style, Meat was very tender and flavorful. We are really on a role with the quality of the dishes. Also a week night and they were not overly busy. Makes a difference when the chefs can take their time.

String beans with white fish filet was up. Again really good flavor to the green beans and the white fish was very moist.

A new dish for me, Chicken and Tofu in Hot Pot. Interesting combination of flavors.

Last dish before dessert was Pork Chow Mein Hong Kong Style,  We were supposed to have Fried Rise Cantonese Style but Henry decided to eliminate that dish. We were really full and satisfied at that point.

Chinese are not big on dessert. We had the almond pudding with fruit cocktail. I ate a couple of bites but that was it.

I brought a 2019 Clos Pepe, Sta Rita Hills, Pinot Noir and it was showing well. I was happy with that selection.. I also brought a 2010 Verve Janka, Dry Gewurztraminer Dessert Wine. Not overly sweet. A good choice. Other wines were:

2013 Stags Leap, Napa, Petit Syrah- nice and chewy.

2014 Failia, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir - a little young

2012 Anglim, Cense, a blend of Grenache, Mouverde, Syrah and Viognier.  Nice, well balanced.

2015 Woolridge Creek Vineyard, Applegate Valley, Dry Gewurztraminer - did not try.

NV, GH Mumm, Maison Fondee,  En 1827, Brut, Cordon Rouge - nice bubbly, enjoyed several pours.

2009 Sea Smoke, Sta Rita Hills, Ten, Pinot Noir - well made and balanced, good complexity.

2013 Clos Pepe, Sta Rita Hills, Pinot Noir - needs a few more years.

2013 Robert Mondavi, Maestro 50th Anniversary, Cabernet Sauvignon - disappointed in this wine, expected more.

2013 Cass, Rockin One, Paso Robles - did not try, I believe it was a white wine.

2013 Seghesio, Sonoma, Zinfandel - did not try but Seghesio is usually good.

2007 Mont Louis, Sur, Loire, Clos Habert, Chenin Blanc - very nice wine.

2006 Stolpman, Santa Ynez, Sangiovese - off and it is really not that old.

1993 Oakford Vineyards, Oakvile, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon - old and going away but still had color and light fruit and a git of tanins - interesting to taste these older wines.

Recon at Indian Grill

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

5 of us met tonight at the Indian Grill in Cypress to check out new dishes for Margie's January dinner

Won't go into the dishes we had because they are all showing up on her menu for dinner.  If someone reads the blog that goes to the dinner then there is no surprise.

But we did have a good selection of wines. I brought a 2010 Evening Land, Sta Rita Hills, Pinot Noir and was a bit disappointed in it. Just lacked something.

There was a 2010 Banshee, Napa Pinot Noir that was the hit of the evening.  Other wines were 2012 Lincourt, Annie Dyers, Sta Rita Hills, Pinot Noir, 2015 Belle Gros, Pinot Blanc, NV John Michael, Artist Series, Blanc de Blanc and a 2015 Dragonette, Santa Barbara, Rose. I could not handle the Rose - just was not my style, I prefer mine drier.  Good selection.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Big Red Wine Dinner at Delius

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Delius Restaurant hosted their annual holiday dinner tonight.    www.deliusrestaurant.com,           
 Used to be all Champagne and sparkling's but people just could not seem to grasp the idea of food pairings with those wines. I personally though it was a great theme. So Dave switched to the "Big Red" theme.

We started out with a House Cured Pork Belly, winter squash, pecan persillade, black garlic vinaigrette  and mizuna.  Sauce was excellent. The greens could have been left off because to me they are an absolute pain to eat gracefully. You always seem to have stems sticking out of you mouth.  I really would have preferred the pork belly to be thicker so I could get the flavor. It was more like thin jerky. Something was lost in the translation.  No red wine with this dish. They poured a NV, Toresella Prosecco. Paired very well.

Second course was a Stone Fruit Braised Beef Cheeks with charred green onions, radish and pickled pearl onions. Cheeks were extremely tender and flavorful. The add ons really brought out unique flavors. Two wines were served with this dish. A 2014 Amarte Mas Albarino and a 2014 Pio Cesare Barbera D'Alba.  Surprisingly the Albarino was the better pairing with the food. Probably because of the stone fruits in the dish. The Barbera needed a few more years.

A 2014 Faivley Borgogne was paired with the next dish. Crispy Skin Artic Char, celery root puree, Hen of the Wood mushrooms and pea greens. Again those stupid greens. Mushrooms were very earthy, the puree was excellent. The Artic Char was very good, cooked perfectly except for the skin. I did not think it was crispy enough. I could pull the entire skin off in one limp piece. That to me is not crispy. Wine was a perfect match.

Main course was Grilled Rack of Lamb, roasted brussels sprouts, leek and caramelized onion gratin with rosemary-juniper demi. By this time I was very full, Ate one bite of the lamb and had them box it up to take home. After all there is dessert. Delius always does and superb job with lamb chops and duck breast..Two wines were paired. A 2011 Mirafloe Barolo and a 2012 Tangley Oaks, Napa, Merlot. The merlot was good for a merlot. I did prefer the Barolo. Much more going for it.

Dessert was very good. A Chocolate cake with Clementine gelato and a Almond Tuille. Gelato had bits of the rind in it and that really made the dish. 

Good dinner with great dining companions and to top the evening off Warren treated all 8 of us to dinner. That was a huge surprise. Time to give a bottle to him.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Stag's Leap wines at Chianina

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Chianina in Naples, www.chianina.com, hosted a Stag's Leap Wine Cellar dinner this evening. Met up with 3 others and was looking forward to the evening.  As always we started out with the basket of rolls. So addicting. I did limit myself to 2 rolls tonight but I could have eaten the whole basket by myself. Their Marscapone butter is to die for.

We started out with a Hamachi  Crudo and green apple. Just a bite but refreshing and very good flavor. Chianina always seems to throw in a couple of bites of something good outside of the menu.

We were poured the 2015 Aveta Sauvignon Blanc. Nice wine not to acidic. Went well with the Hamachi and the third glass went well with the first course of Grilled Prawn with saffron rice chip. The prawns had a sauce on them which helped the flavor. I was not impressed with the prawns. Thought they tasted old, were slightly overcooked and for prawns they were small. They had the heads on he plate which had been deep fried. Ate one of them but it was not much to get excited about. The head I had at the sushi place in Shell Beach was ten times the size and much better tasting.  At least I had 3 glasses of wine to help out.

Second course was a John Dory roll in eggplant with Castelvetrano olive, sweet pepper. Flavor was OK but I was not thrilled with this dish either. Something was very lacking .  A 2014 Karia Chardonnay was the pairing. Oaky but did blend itself with the dish. Gave most of mine away.

We were then presented with a little bite of a Fried Risotto ball with black trumpet mushrooms and talleggo cheese. This was good. Should had  this as one of the courses.

A 2013 Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon was paired with the Roasted Liberty Farm Duck, celery root, beet and fall vegetable puree. Puree was excellent. Duck was good but I have had better flavor from duck. Maybe a tad more seasoning.

Fourth Course was the Grilled Chinina Rib Eye with Maitake mushrooms, peewee potato and Farm Lot mustard frill. I did not taste any of this dish. Just had them box it up and took it home. I ate it for dinner the next day, reheated, steak was good but not great. Potatoes were under cooked. Two wines were served. A 2013 Fay Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2013 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon. The Fay was drinking were nicely but the SLV would be one for holding.

The Fifth Course was not listed as dessert. Turned out to be a Foie Gras parfait with house made biscotti. Had some kind of nuts and maybe golden raisins in top. It has a very creamy texture like a very soft pudding. You could taste the Foie Gras but it also had a hint  of a taste of malt.. Not would I would pick for dessert. They did serve a 2013 Muffato Della Sala with this dish. Sweet but not over bearing. 

I was not really super happy about this dinner. Food had some flaws. Wines were good but to me a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is way to young to drink. But I also realize they are not going to be pouring their cellar wines. The idea is to get you to buy the newer releases.  

But the company was good and it was a nice evening.  But then on Friday I get a notice from from credit card company about fraudulent charges. Seems someone lifted my number. I last used the card at Chianina. Had to cancel my card again. Earlier this year same thing happened after I  dined at Russo's. Fraud department told me that restaurants and gas stations were the places that cards are compromised the most.