Saturday, August 23, 2014

Prix Fixe Dinner at Delius

Friday, August 22, 2015

Joined Tim, Maria and Hugh for dinner tonight and Cindy opted to come also. The August Prix Fixe menu at Delius looked good. www.deliusrestaurant.com,  They change the menu once a month for that dining room.

Started off with a grilled shrimp, crispy jasmine rice, garlic siracha aioli. Shrimp was cooked perfect, the rice was great and the aioli to die for. Paired with a 2011 Von Hovel Riesling Kabinett.

Next was a Brussel sprout salad, frisee, bacon, very thinly sliced boiled egg and thinly sliced radish. I can do without the frisee, it's just not my thing but the rest of it was really good. Wine was a 2012 Parcel 41, Sauvignon Blanc from Oakville, Napa. Good wine. 

A plate of crispy skinned duck with apricot mint chimichurri was sent down in front of us. Again the sauce was so good. And the duck at Delius is always good. A 2011 Sierra Rioja was paired. 

Mai course was a Pork tenderloin, potato gnocchi, sherry cream sauce. Ate a few bites to see what is was like and had them pack it to go. After all we have dessert coming. Wine was a little bit of a disappointment. A 2011 Knez Winery, Boonhill, Anderson Valley, Pinot Noir. Light weight. Ok wine but nothing to get excited over.

Dessert was a house made S'mores, salted caramel and spicy bittersweet chocolate. Decadent, overly sweet. Ate half and took the balance home. It was good. But too sweet and heavy for me after a big dinner.

A very good dinner. lots of fun, great people at the table. This is the way I like it. Maybe next time we will order our own bottles from the menu instead of having the pairing. Would not cost anymore.

Wine & Fire Weekend in Sta, Rita Hills

Mid August always finds the big event of the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance. Almost 100% participation from all the winemakers, vineyards and wineries in the area. I have been doing this event for over ten years now. There was a hiatus of a couple of years while they got their act together but it is back in full swing and better than before. They start out with a big "barn" party on Friday night. at the old Sanford barn. Music, food and of course wine. I have not been able to take in this event because of my work schedule but someday is coming.

Left about 6:50 am Saturday morning. Cindy offered to drive and I jumped on that one. No problems with traffic and we pulled into Buellton about 9:10. Gassed up, grabbed a breakfast sandwich from a drive in and took off for Santa Rosa Road and to find Fiddlestix vineyard. First stop for a four hour seminar and catered lunch. Two different panels  this year. Very informative. Second part of the seminar we were supposed to discuss the wine. Adam Lee from Siduri was at our table. We decided that we had two red wines and two white wines and that they must be pinot and chardonnay. Batting 100% right now. That was a no brainer because that is the two varietals that are featured this weekend. Then it got a little tougher. Had to figure out which winemaker made which one. Our theory was to give the bigger wine to the younger winemaker. Seemed to work.

Lunch was served and open seating. Norm Yost from Flying Goat graced our table bringing wine with him. He had his Goat Bubbles and a Pinot from the Rio Vista vineyard.  Some winemakers came around pouring their offerings. There was a 1997 Foxen, Sanford and Benedict Pinot, 2012 Kessler-Hawk Brut, 2012 Le Montagne, 2011 Clos Pepe sparkling, 2000 Mt. Carmel Chardonnay (can't read my own writing to tell who the winery is). Probably should have kept better notes. But there was a lot of wine flowing.

Off to check into the hotel and head for the Grand Tasting at the LaPurisma Mission. This is always a great event. Almost all the wineries are pouring tonight and the food is always good. Lobster Mac & Cheese, Beef sliders, BBQ ribs and tri tip. Salads, sandwiches. Doesn't get much better. I stayed away from the silent auction. Do not need to buy right now.

Sunday morning after a quick breakfast we headed for Clos Pepe for their annual release party.After  sampling the library wines, we headed for the table loaded with a dozen different kinds of cheeses, meats, fig jam, quince etc., Great spread. Then off to taste the new 2013 releases. Another really good year for the Clos. Many things to do today. Left and went across the road to Huber. Need to pick up six cases of wine. Norman offered to let us come by in the morning on our way home to pick up the wine. That is a big deal for us. We are headed over to Los Olivos and it gets really hot in that area. About 15 degrees warmer than the Sta. Rita Hills.

Stopped in at Trecero and tasted then over to Stolpman to pick up six bottles of "Carbonic" Sangiovese. This is the new rage of the winemakers now. 

We decided to stop in at Industrial Eats and get take out. Still full from that spread we had at the Clos. I ended up with smoked sturgeon, creme fraiche, avocado and pickled peppers. Cindy opted for a sandwich. Took them back to the hotel and went outside to the pool to eat. Cindy opened a bottle of wine but I stuck with water. By this time I have becomed "wined out". But I definitely want to come back to Industrial Eats and stay and partake in some more goodies.

Monday morning up at had another quick breakfast then off to Huber to pick up wine to bring home. Traudl gave us some squash she had picked earlier. Loaded up and headed towards home. Took a little longer getting back. The traffic in the Valley is always obscene. 

This was Cindy's first time doing the Wine & Fire event and she really enjoyed it. Wants to come back. Which is OK with me especially if she drives. What a treat for me to have a driver. I am not sure if I would be in such a good mood if I drove. This weekend really did a number on me. It will take a couple of days to recoup. That's what I go to work for. But I am already marking my calendar for next years event.

Hopefully everyone will come over and get their wine out of my house quickly. I am not looking forward to six cases sitting around for too long.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

555 Steak House

Saturday, August 09, 2014

12 gathered tonight for dinner at 555 in Long Beach for Margie's Monthly Fun Wine Activity.  She goes to a lot of trouble to get these organized every month. It is appreciated at least by me. 

555 is one of the best chop houses around. We were seated in a private dining area which is much quieter than the open restaurant.

Most everyone  ordered steak but I did see salmon and lamb chops in front of people. Everyone had good things to say about their dinners. I had a petite filet oscar and it was cooked to perfection. Margie brought gourmet cupcakes for dessert but I ordered a creme brulee. Those cupcakes are way too sweet for me. I have never been a cupcake fan and it takes a real special cake for me to like it.

Margie had asked everyone to go deep into their cellars for "fine" wine tonight. Some did, some did not. 2011 & 2012 is not deep. I kept mine in the middle because when I saw the list of people attending, I knew what quality of wine they would bring. I am not wasting my really good stuff on them, I did bring three bottles, a red, a sparkling and a port. Maybe that's a negative to feel that way but that is me. I will save my better stuff for a dinner of 8 or less and for people that bring equal.

The 1999 Opus, the 2013 Dom Perignon, 2003 Stags Leap Winery, Fay, Cabernet were the hits of the  evening.

Other wines brought were 2008 Chateau Margene Meritage, 2007 Denner Mouvedre, 2011 Grassini Blend, D66 Grenache, Roderer bubbly, 2009 La Vie Late Harvest Riesling, 1992 Quinta Infantado Porto, 2011 Grey Wolf, Alpha Cab, 2012 Grey Wolf, The Big Bad Wolf, Zinfandel, 2011 Williams Selyem Olivet Lane Chardonnay, 2006 Kistler Elizabeth Cuvee Pinot Noir, 2010 TF, Oak Knoll, Cabernet, 2008 Huber Dornfelder Port and a Palmina Luminesse bubbly.

A good selection of wines but some were not what I would expect for this dinner. But it was a good dinner with good people and a really good time was had by all.

Friday, August 1, 2014

OC India Grille

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sangiv from the Himalayan Grille in Sunset Beach has opened a new restaurant in Cypress. On Katella at the Costco Plaza.  www.ocindiagrill.com, Nice place, furnished well. Lots of room for a wine dinner.

Sangiv did bring one of the cooks from the Himalayan so it will be interesting to see how the two places match up for food.

We started out with Samosa's. Good but I think the crust was a little thick. I do like the Himalayan's better. We then ordered a plate of Vegetable Pakoras.  Very good the better of the two places.

A variety of dishes were ordered, Shrimp Saag, Mango Chicken, Chicken Chau Chau, Lamb Marsala, Aloo Gobi and Garlic Naan. And two bowls of  basmatic rice.  I did like the Chau Chau much better than the Himalayan but the other dishes were on par.

Best news is no corkage for us

Started off with a NV Paul Goerg, France, Blanc de Blanc.  Then onto a 2012 Martinelli, Sonoma Coast, Rose. Both good wines and both were a good start to a meal on a hot day

Rounding out the evening:

2008 Sea Smoke, Botella, Sta Rita Hills, Pinot Noir
2008 Duckhorn, Napa, Merlot
2008 Williams Seylem, Bacigalupi Vineyard, Sonoma,  Zinfandel
2008 La Vigne, Sanarone, Italy, Barolo

I left a little after 9:00, besides us there were still two tables occupied. The close at 9:30. Open for a buffet lunch everyday. Then reopens in the afternoon for dinner.  This place is much larger than the Himalayan and you don't have that cold air rushing in everytime a door is opened. I think this will be our new to go place for Indian food.

Charlie Palmer with Williams Selyem Wines

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bit the price bullet and signed up for this dinner a few weeks ago. Williams Selyem wines at Charle Palmer at Bloomingdales in Costa Mesa (South Coast Plaza)  www.charliepalmer.com.   A 75 minute drive from work.  Reception was at 6:00. When I walked in a large crowd was all ready there. Bob Cabral the winemaker was hobnobbing with the "beautiful" people. Got my glass of 2008 Williams Selyem Blanc de Blanc Sparkling and found Terry seated already. I will say they were generous in repeat pours and they were pouring from Magnums. This wine is not sold to the lower tier allocation members. Only long term, high volume users are allowed to buy. I think they said 52 cases were made. It was a very nice sparkling, well balanced, good taste. A nice surprise.

We started out with a Kumamoto Oyster Shooter with Ponzu Crumble. Good, clean flavor, Kumamoto is one of the smallest oysters but has a very delicate, light brine taste. I could have done a dozen of these.

First course was a Wild King Salmon Sashima with Crispy Heirloom Tomato, Brown Butter Cream Cheese, Lemon caper Vinaigrette. The salmon was excellent, the brown butter cream cheese also. The tomatoes were non discript, they were so crisp I thought they were kernals of corn. Paired with a 2010 Williams Selyem Drake Estate Chardonnay. Good pairing. Chardonnay was clean with a very slight oak taste to it but paired very well with the salmon.

Second course was served. Slow Cooked Kurobata Pork Tenderloin with Spinach, Clamshell Mushrooms, Green Tea Pork Consomme.  Good flavor, my pork had some connective tissue that was a little hard to cut through. The consomme had excellent flavor. I will take the same pork tenderloin I had at Delius last week over this dish. Wine was a 2012 Williams Selyem Westside Road Pinot Noir. When I saw the year 2012 I wondered why they were pouring such a young wine. After I tasted it I knew why. Very weak, light weight wine. Do not think this wine will age more than a couple of years. Their tasting notes disagree with me and they are the experts but they also have a product they need to sell.

Third course on the menu was a Smoked Liberty Farms Duck Breast with Maple Syrup, Coriander, Garlic Chive, Quinoa Cake, Pinot Noir Beurre Rouge.  The piece of duck was at least 2 inches thick with a crispy skin. It was hard to cut and I feel it lost a lot flavor by being so thick and also was not that moist. It was ok but close to being dry.  The Quinoa Cake was dry. Again I will take Delius's  duck breast any day over this. They paired this with a 2006 Williams Selyem Allen Pinot Noir. This wine was good and it showed the age.

Fourth course up was a Balsamic Marinated Prime Skirt Steak with Horseradish Parsnip Puree, Summer Squash, Red Wine Jus.  Steak was really good. and very tender. Had great flavor and the puree was just the right touch. As for the squash I am not too sure one very small, about 4 inches, baby squash counts as a vegetable. Paired with a 2012 Williams Seylem Bacigalupi Zinfandel. Very good pairing, the wine was excellent and made a perfect pairing.

Dessert was a White Peach Mousse Cake, Lychee Gelee, Mint, Coconut Lime Sponge Cake. Very light. Perfect end to a dinner.  Served with a 2011 Williams Seylem Vista Verde, Late Harvest, Gerwurztraminer. Not overly sweet. decent wine.

I will say they were very generous in their pours and they came around and poured again if you wanted more. Part of the dinner were very good and part left a lot to be desired. Room was noisy and we had to ask them to turn down the music several times. Dinner was in the main dining area next to the bar and lounge so we had that to contend with also. Not an intimate setting.

I was very disappointed that Bob Cabral, the winemaker did not come around to the tables a at least say hello to people. This dinner was over $172 with  automatic tip and I felt it should have lived up to the price. May be "beautiful" people don't have the expectations that I do. I think that paying $50 for the Prix Fixe dinner at Delius, www.deliusrestaurant.com,  and ordering wine off the wine list would be a better deal. 4 to 5 people and 4 wines would still be cheaper, much better food and more intimate setting.




Saturday, July 26, 2014

Prix Fixe Dinner at Delius

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ten of us met at Delius, www.deliusrestaurant.com,  tonight for the July menu  Prix Fixe dinner. Since I had dinner at the Hobbit, www.hobbitrestaurant.com, last night I knew I would be doing a comparison.

Started out with a Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi, Seaweed Salad with Green Curry Aioli. Ahi was cooked perfectly. the Aioli was great and a really good addition to the plate and the Seaweed Salad was excellent. Having never had seaweed salad I was looking forward to the taste. A very slight brine taste, julienned. Clean flavor. Paired with a 2012 Will Estate, Napa Valley, Albarino. Nice wine but I do prefer Longoria's Albarino.

Second course was a Mexican Corn Soup with Jalapeno Dusted Tortillas. Excellent flavor. Louise does have a knack with soups and the tortillas had just a light jalapeno taste. I finished my Albarino and started on the 2012 Mourchon , France, Grenache/Syrah Rose. Drinking a lot of Rose's lately. This was nice, medium body and went very well with the flavors of the soup.

Third course is a Duck Confit Terrine, Stone Fruit Compote and Baby Arugula. Duck was good. Arugula I can take or leave. Mostly leave. The compote really added a touch to the duck and the dish paired really well with the 2010 Fiddlehead Cellars, Sta Rita Hills, Pinot Noir.

Fourth course was served , Braised Shortribs, Summer Squash, Kale and Red Onions.  Beautifully cooked meat. Wish everyone would cook shortribs with well. No knife needed. The meat just flaked apart with your fork. Excellent flavor. Paired with a 2010 Meyer, Mendocino County Syrah. Nice wine but a little light weight for a Syrah for my taste. This would considered a cool climate Syrah and I do prefer the warm climate Syrahs.

Dessert was a Farm Peach Crepes, House Made Cinnamon Ice Cream. Crepes were light and the flavor of the peaches was good. Never go wrong with ice cream.

So for less and half the price at The Hobbit last night I had an excellent dinner. Food was much better at Delius. Granted the wines at The Hobbit were high end and that is what you were paying for. As much as I enjoyed the dinner at The Hobbit, I  found myself really appreciating what Delius offers in the way of excellent food and flavors.

Friday, July 25, 2014

High End at The Hobbit

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Hobbit restaurant in Orange , www.hobbitrestaurant.com, hosted a "high end" wine dinner tonight. Monteverro, Michael Rolland and Alpha Omega Wines.  Jean Hoefliger the winemaker from Monteverro was in attendance.

We got there a little early but were seated immediately in the dining area. Terry is using walker due to a recent surgery so we could not go down into the cellar for Champagne and Hors d'oeuvres which turned out be be a good thing. The waitstaff  brought plates of food to us and poured several glasses of bubbly for us. The appetizers were all excellent. They had at least 7 different ones on the plate. Told Terry to keep the walker after he does not need it and every time we come to the Hobbit use it.

This dinner was pricey at $174 per person, exclusive. I was anxious to see what we would get for the kind of money. All the wines are higher end. Ranging from $50 to $170 per bottle (depending on where you would buy them.

The first course was a Fennel Spice Rubbed Fresh King Salmon, Saffron Cauliflower Rice with Vermouth Zabaglione.  Flavor was good but my salmon was dry and spelled fishy. Ate about half and did not finish. Told the server when the plates were picked up. Michael the owner and chef came to the table to talk with us about the dish.  At least they are concerned about quality. This dish was paired with a 2010 Monteverro Chardonnay, about $80 per bottle, way to oaky for me. Two sips and that was it.

Up next was a Braised Rabbit Leg with Wild Mushroom Creamy Polenta. Rabbit was very good. The wild mushrooms had great flavor but some seemed dry to me. The polenta was excellent. Wine was a 2010 Monteverro Tinata, a blend of Syrah and Grenache. The wine was much better with the food than on its own. Bottle goes for $85 to $100 on "winesearcher.com"

After a brief intermission a dish of White Peach Sorbet was presented to help clean the palate before the next course.

Main course was a Beef Rib Eye Steak Florentine with Broccoli Rabe and Fingerling Potatoes. Steak was excellent and the server did come around and offer extra slices. The Broccoli Rabe and the potatoes were the same as I make at home. Just plain sauteed and roasted. A little disappointing considering the price of the dinner. Two wines were poured for this course a 2010 Michel Rolland Napa Cabernet, $120 to $150 on winesearcher and a 2010 Monteverro di Monteverro, $134 to $170 on winesearcher.  Both wines had been decanted for about 30 minutes but frankly they should have been decanted for a least 3 hours or more. They are young and took quite a bit of swirling to get them to open up.  The cab was excellent. Very well balanced with a big dark cherry taste to it.  It had some Cabernet Franc and Merlot in the blend. The Monteverro di Monteverrro was a Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon blend, Big alcohol on the nose. Took awhile to blow off.  But both wines were excellent and paired beautifully with the beef after they opened up.

Dessert was a Blood Orange Cake with Toasted Almond Cup and Blackberry Coulis. Cake was smothered in an overly sweet blood orange sauce which I scrapped off. That left a still overly sweet cake. Then to add the the already oversweet dish they served a 2010 Alpha Omega Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, about $50 per bottle. Sweet and sweet is way to much for me. Would have really preferred a cheese plate with the wine.

The Hobbit has excellent waitstaff and you do do want for anything.  They  came around and asked if you wanted additional pours on wine and the pours were generous. That is a big plus. I did not have any extra pours because the first pour was large but Terry availed himself of the extras.  But then I was the designated driver tonight also.

Jean Hoefliger came over to the table after dinner and talked with us for awhile. Down to earth person and feels everyone has a different palate so no two people will think alike on the wines.  He did not seem offended at all when I said the Chardonnay was way to oaky the reds needed to be decanted longer etc., I have never been known to keep my mouth shut and he did agree on a few things. Or maybe he was just very diplomatic.

Michael the owner and chef came out after dinner and brought me a bottle of their house Champagne to make up for the salmon. The Hobbit does really good PR work and they are very concerned about their quailty and reputation. I still feel the price of dinner was too high but that is the way it is. Comparing this dinner to the Clos Pepe dinner at Delius last week for $89,  I frankly was more impressed with Delius's food. I have had excellent dinners at the Hobbit where I felt the food way superior to what we had tonight.