Wednesday, August 16, 2017

With The Boys Again

Monday, August 14, 2017

Another Dim Sum with the boys at the Seafood Palace,,.  We started out with the normal offerings from the carts, Shrimp Shu Mai, Sweet Rice with Chinese Sausage in Lotus Leaf, and a Soy Bean Wrapped concoction of Pork, Mushrooms and Vegetables. We consider these items appetizers before our main dishes.

Then our complimentary bowl of Sour Spicy Soup.  Followed with a platter  Beef and Vegetables with Fat Noodles,  Salt and Pepper Calamari and Basil Clams.  When we reached this state we are ready to stop.  A nice Egg Tart for dessert.

We each had a taste of a Fried Radish Cake that Henry ordered to take home to his wife Evan.  A light radish flavor, not too much and it was interesting. I would eat it again, 

Good selection of wines today. For a $12 each lunch we do drink well.

I brought a 2009 Williams Selyem Russian River Pinot Noir which I decanted for about 90 minutes. Drinking really nicely.  A 2012 Stags Leap Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Melville Sta. Rita Hills Syrah and a 2011 Touraine, Val de Loire Pinot Noir Rose.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Baci Restaurant

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Margie's choice for dinner this month was Baci in Huntington Beach.,  Loads of murals on the walls but a bit noisy for me. But when you have 12 people at a long table the noise level does go up. But I was on a far end so I had a least one quiet side.  

A variety of foods was order. I started out with a shrimp, artichoke heart,  percorino cheese appetizer. It was decent, but the 4 shrimp were very small.  But my lamb oso bucco was excellent. Loads of flavor and meat was tender. I think I would have preferred risotto instead of pasta as a side but that is always an after thought. The panna cotta for dessert was good. So a good dinner.

Mixed variety of wines. I brought a 2008 Stolpman LaCroce which is a blend of Sangiovese and Syrah . Decanted it for 3 hours and to me was the best wine on the table. Very well balanced, nice fruit without being too fruity, semi dry with a good mouth feel.  I did taste some of the other wines. A few good and a few not. But that is the reality of life.

2011 Pio Cesare, Barolo - good (second favorite)

NV    Valdobbiadrene, Brut Prosecco  - good

2015 Turley, Sauvignon Blanc - good not to acidic

2015 Francis Ford Coppola, Sophia , Blanc de Blanc - decent

2016 Trump, Monticello, VA, Sauvignon Blanc - I dumped it

2012 Carpineto Vino Nobile de Montepulciano - good

2014 Seal Beach Winery, Estelle Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon  did not taste

2003 Chumeia, Barbera - did not taste

2004 Pedroncelli, Sangiovese - sharp mouth feel, it should have been much  smoother for a 13 year old wine. - was not impressed

2015 Moretti, Bianchetto - did not taste but I have earlier years of this wine and they have been good

2014 Palmina Dolcetto - did not taste

2013 Tabalas Creek, Full Circle, Pinot Noir - decent

2014 Kosta Browne, SLH,  Pinot Noir - good but too young to drink

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Playground and Steak

Wednesday,  August 9, 2017

Time to go the the Playground again for their Ultimate Steak dinner which is their bread and butter dinner.,  They feature 5 cuts of Wagu beef.  4 cuts from a Wagu beef from a cattle grower in  Nebraska which butchers 20 Wagu beef cattle a month and the Playground takes 10 of them. The ribeye at the end of the meal is Grade 5 Wagu beef  from Miyazaji, Japan.

Traffic was unusually heavy and it took me and hour and 50 minutes to get there from work. If there was a red light I hit it. Two fire trucks, one accident and one ambulance interfered also.. Walked into the restaurant at 6:10. Fortunately I was not the only late arrival. 

A nice sparkling Vouvay was poured which really hit the spot since I was a bit frazzled . We were then served a house made salted brioche roll with house made butter Then onto a salad of mixed greens, pickled cranberries, candied walnuts and a sherry Dijon vinaigrette. The dressing was light and it not cover the flavors of the cranberries and walnuts.

Next a dish of heirloom tomatoes, tahini, nectarines, plums, pistachios and Baller seasame seeds. Loads of flavors and the tomatoes have very little acid to them. Made for a very pleasant dish for me.

The first steak appeared - sirloin, cut in small strips, red just to my liking.  This is not the place for people who want their meat cremated. Jason refuses to overcook meat. So if you are a medium to well done person this dinner is not for you.

A bowl of crispy brussel sprouts, carmelized onions was set in front of us.  Again a dish with a lot of flavors.  The cut of steak with this dish was Flank.  Extremely tender.  Then a plate of a cut called Picanha was set down.  Had never heard of this cut of beef. Apparently it is popular in South America, There is only one cut on a beef and it is approximately 3 lbs,  Jason has specific butchering guidelines that he gives to the cattle grower.  I found it slightly chewy but that is the way South Americans like their beef.

A plate of "Tater Tubes" appeared. Fried tubes made with potatoes and stuffed with Pommes Puree. I could have eaten a lot of these tasty little morsels.. An outside skirt steak was chosen for the accompaniment.

Next was a dish with corn and some herb mixed in. Not sure what is was as it was not on the menu. But the Miyazaki Ribeye was the meat for this dish. It was so tender and the fat tasted like butter. $115 a pound is what is costs the restaurant.

Dessert was macerated peaches and a Semi Fredo.  Good close to a very rich dinner.

We had 5 wines besides the sparkling to go  with the dishes. So another dinner bites the dust. Considering how  much we get to eat, 5 wines and a sparkling the price is reasonable.  I have never been disappointed in the Playground. It is not for everyones taste and budget. But every two months I have to go.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

10 Year Vertical of Clos Pepe Wines

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I wandered down the freeway to Venice Saturday afternoon for a Clos Pepe wine tasting.  The host had told Wes he could invite two extra people so Wes decided on Jolie and I. We were both ecstatic  to be the chosen ones.  This was a 10 year vertical of wines.

Unfortunately Wes had to cancel at the last minute due to personal issues. But Cameron the host welcomed us with open arms.  Andrew who is still with Clos Pepe until the wines runs out was there pouring for us. 

I was too difficult to keep notes as space was limited  I did remember that the 2001 HTC Chardonnay was interesting Had a sherry quality to it, Caramel and nutty. I liked it enough to try a second pour. And somehow in my notes I may have missed some of the wines. If I find  a complete list I will edit this post because there was between 39 and  40 bottles on the table.  I do remember that the 2006 Estate Pinot was off.

HTC Chardonnay - 2000,  2001, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

BF Chardonnay - 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Estate Pinot - 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

VS Pinot - 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014

Signature - 2012

Dark Side - 2012

Sparkling - 2010

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dinner at 555 East

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A few of us decided weeks ago to get together for some good red meat and bring some really good wines we had been wanting to share with others.  Seven of us tonight at 555 East Steakhouse.    We met at 6:00 PM except for Stan and Karen who were coming in from Santa Monica.  They left their place at 4:15 and arrived about 6:45.  That had to be a horrible drive in traffic.

I ordered raw oysters so I would have something delectable with the Champagnes. Kumumoto and Island Paradise were my choices.  Most of us ordered steak and Paul had the rack of lamb.  555 East fell short this time.  Karens's steak was cooked wrong, Paul's rack of lamb was cold. My Kansas City Strip had too much grizzle on one end. Margie's baked potato had to be sent back because of problems on the inside after it was cut.  This is unusual for 555 East.

But service was good and the wines were even better.

I brought a 2006 Sassicia (cab  and cab franc) which was so good.  I paid $100 for a few years back at a charity event. Looked up the pricing on it and now it averaged out at $268.  Which made is a little less than $12 an ounce. I found that really funny to think about how much that taste was costing me.  Glad I opened it while it is still vibrant and at the optimum taste level. These wines do go for long years of aging. But at my age I don't have time. Better to enjoy now. and best to enjoy with others who appreciate what they are drinking

All wines were showing well.

2005 BV, Georges  Latours, Private Reserve Cabernet brought by CJ.

1995 Chateau Monbousquet Saint-Emilion, (merlot) Grand Cru and a March Hebrart, Premier Cru, Brut brought by Greg.

2014 Lancaster, Samantha's Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir and a Pertois-Moriser, Balnc de Blanc brought by Paul and Margie.

1998 d'Arnenberg, The Dead Arm, Shiraz and a 1997 Jones Family Vineyards, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon brought by Stan and Karen.

Hard to pick out a favorite.  All were really good. So good food (mostly), great wines and great friends made for a very enjoyable evening

July's Dim Sum with The Boys

Monday, July 24, 2017

Only 4 of us today at the Seafood Palace,,  Henry's back from Maui so time to get together again..  We ordered our usual off the dim sum cart.  

Sweet sticky rice with shrimp and Chinese sausage wrapped in Lotus Leaves.

Shrimp Shu Mai.

Ground shrimp and pork wrapped in seaweed and deep fried.

We got our complimentary bowl of our spicy soup.

Then off to a couple of other dishes.  Shrimp in black bean sauce with fat noodles. Shrimp was especially sweet and tender today. This dish was recommended by Mr. Do who never gives Henry bad advice on what is best that day.  And since we have 2 red wines today a Beef French style with green beans.

We are getting to then pint age wise that our appetites are not what they used to me. Doesn't take as many dishes to fill us up any more.  Our Dim Sum dates are for getting together and having a good time. The food comes in third after the wine selections.  

Dessert was our usual egg tarts.

I brought a Schramsberg, Blanc de Blanc which really hit the spot in this hot, humid weather we are experiencing. .  A 201 Evening Land, Chardonnay, which for some reason wasn't oaky but did nothing for me.  A 2014 Loring, Garys Vineyard, Pinot Noir which was really good. 

 A 2014 "Game of Thrones" red wine . Beautiful gold label. Made in Paso Robles of 7 red grapes.  But the wine was not that stellar.  Very fruity on the front palate, nothing mid palate and then very acidic on the back palate.  A novel idea that will sell to people into the TV show but I was not impressed even if it was made by Bob Cabral of Williams Selyem fame.

Monday, July 17, 2017

St. Supery Wines at Taste

Sunday, July 16, 2017

First time at this restaurant in Long Beach,   Absolutely no parking which seems to be the thing in Long Beach anymore.  Found a spot a block away, another in our group parked 4 blocks away. Beyond me why the "city fathers" allow this but so be it.

Crowded, no acoustics, loud. I would come back and do another wine dinner here but not sure if this is the spot to come for a quiet dinner. But it seems to be a very popular place at the moment.

Wines were provided by St. Supery in Napa Valley.

We started out with a Heirloom Melon Salad, Lemongrass Sorbet, Thai Basil and Fresno Chilies. Interesting combination. Flavors went well together, the chilies were sliced very thin so you got just a hint of heat. I am not a basil fan of any kind. so it is lost on me.   They served this with a  2016 Oak Free Estate Chardonnay.. Decent wine but I am not over whelmed.

Second course is Grilled Squid, Garden Ratatouille Brunoise, Kaffir Lime Aioli and Shiso Peppers. Loved the Ratatouille and the Aioli. But the squid was so tough I could not get a fork into it. They had taken two pieces of squid and stuffed them with the vegetables. Good idea but it just did not work. The squid may have been tender in the kitchen but by time it reached me it was tough.  Paired with a 2015 Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc. OK wine but too much grapefruit on the palate. It paired with the food OK but not great.

Third course was a Coffee Rubbed Duck Breast, Spiced Pommes Anna, Roasted Plum Puree, Anise Hyssop. This dish was wonderful. Loved the coffee taste on the duck. A winner along with the 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that was poured. This dish made the meal.

Next was a Lamb Belly Porchetta, Garlic and Herb Lamb Stuffing, Smoked Carrot-Orca, Bean Ragu, Black Pepper Demi Glace. I was looking forward to this dish but this is one that sounded great in the mind and did not pencil out well. I found the lamb porchetta tough. The flavors were very good but flavors only go so far.  The wine also was not to my liking. A 2013 Rutherford  Merlot. It seemed to fall short also.

Dessert was interesting. A Chilled Strawberry Soup, Summer Berries, Tarragon, and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream. Ice cream was very good, I found the berries way to large for the dish, soup was good.  But the wine was awful. A 2015 Rose, made with 5 varieties of red grapes. It was not drinkable and I was not the only one leaving a full glass sitting in front of them.

We talked with the chef afterwards and he admitted a few mistakes on his part. He has really great flavors but some of his ideas just don't pan out.  I will be going back in August for their Tamber Bey wine dinner. Will give them a second chance based on the flavors they develop.