Sunday, November 22, 2015

Metaphora Wine Dinner at Delius

Friday, November 20, 2015

In lieu of the Champagne dinner that Delius,                           does every year Dave opted to have a big "red" wine dinner. He chose a winery that I was unfamiliar with. Metaphora,, . The owner Ravi Metha was in attendance to talk about his wines. Nice, personable person, a lawyer in Sacramento.  This winery is very small production  and the prices are high. Apparently the wines are in some very high restaurants like the French Laundry. But at $150 a bottle for the Cabernet Sauvignon it is not in my cellar.

We started out with a Pomegranate Salad, sweetbreads, argula, frisee, pine nuts and pomegranate dressing. Sweetbreads were very good.  A 2014 Sauvignon Blanc was paired and it was a very good pairing. The wine itself had a very light citrus and peach taste. Very intensive nose. Fermented Sur Lie in concrete eggs and neutral french oak barrels. 14.3 % alcohol.  It really cut the fat in the sweetbreads. I really did like this wine.

Second course served was an Oxtail Tortellini, roasted tomato ragout, fava beans and mushroom broth. Again another excellent dish from Delius. The ragout had deep flavor and I wiped out the remains with the bread.  Paired with a 2009 Pinot Noir. Grapes from Truchard vineyard and Atlas Peak. 13.8 % alcohol. This was not my style  of Pinot.

Third course was a Lamb Porterhouse, sunchoke puree, roasted peppercorn demi and grilled white asparagus. Lamb was very flavorful and tender. Nice thick chop. The demi was good and the asparagus were addicting. A 2012 Cabernet Franc was poured. I really liked this wine. Dark fruit and a little spice with chocolate. Grapes sourced from the Sierra Foothills and 1% from Stage Coach vineyard. Alcohol was 14.%.  My favorite wine of the evening.

Entree was Hanger Steak, red currant spice grits, haricot verts, caramelized onion bechamel. Good dish. Loads of flavor. Grits were great.  Paired with a 2009 Caberent Sauvignon. Very dark fruit with a hint of chocolate. This was Clone 29 . Beatty Ranch, Howell Mtn.  13.7 % alcohol. Nice wine Good pairing.

Dessert was interesting. Chocolate Angel Cake. Very dense. With a persimmon butter and malbec tuille. Good flavors. But after this heavy meal I personally would have preferred a much lighter dessert

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Recon at India Grill

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Five of us tonight doing a recon of new dishes for Margie's next monthly wine dinner. We met at India Grill in Cypress, Traffic was a beast tonight so I was running late. The group had already started with an appetizer  of "onion rings". Not your typical American version. Smaller and far more flavor. They were good cold.

A plate of "Seekh Kabal" arrived. Minced, ground lamb shaped into small logs and grilled.  Even Margie ate this type of lamb so there is hope for her . These were good, mild flavor, not too spicy and loads of flavor. Served with sauteed onions and bell peppers.

We tried a bowl of "Yellow Dal Soup", lentils with spices and herbs. Not my thing. It was a texture problem for me. I am not a big fan of lentils, black eyed peas, etc. because of the texture. I will eat them if served but do not go out of my way to seek them out. I guess the flavor was good because everyone else ate theirs.

A plate of Chau Chau (noodles) with chicken and a masala sauce was next. Really prefer the  regular Chau Chau without the sauce.

An eggplant dish was next. I do not like eggplant but was very surprised at the taste of this dish. I went back several times for another spoonful. It is called Bengan Bharta and consisted of roasted eggplant that was pureed with spices and a cream sauce. Very good. Served with a Tandoori Roti (bread).

Another bread we had was Aloo Paratha, Naan stuffed with potatoes and peas. Different and tasty.

Last dish was a mixed vegetable with curry and masala sauce. These had good flavor also.

So it will be interesting to see what new dishes show up along with a few old favorites on the dinner in January

Wines tonight were really good. No dogs here.

2012 Niederosterreich, Gruner Veltliner
2009 Clos Pepe VS, Pinot Noir
2007 Merry Edwards, Klopp Ranch, RRV, Pinot Noir
2006 Robert Mondavi, Napa, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Sea Smoke, Southing, Pinot Noir
NV  Tattinger Brut

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Issara Restauramt with Margie's Wine Group

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Margie took us back to Issara for dinner for her November restaurant selection.  and the food again was worth it. 12 of us tonight.

We started out with 2 appetizers. Issara Chicken Wings, sticky and finger lickin good along with Shrimp Roll. David the owner threw in some Bangkok cups also.

Salad was "Nam Thok Mo"  grilled pork with fish sauce and fresh lime. Lime really gives this dish a bang. Served with herb toasted rice, red onion and mint.

5 entrees tonight.  First was Spicy eggplant with Tofu, carrots, green beans, red peppers, onion, soybean sauce and basil. Basil is very heavy in Thai food. To me a little goes a long way. Just like cilantro. I ate  a lot of the tofu, eggplant is just not my thing.

Second entree was Drunken Fettuccine with beef, onion, basil, bell pepper and a chili based sauce. Very good flavor and the noodles soaked up the sauce nicely.

Third entree served was a "Mu Yang Pork", grilled marinated pork, tamarind dipping sauce and sticky rice. Excellent flavor and the sticky rice has a slight sweetness to it..

Fourth entree is "Crispy Sole", lightly breaded fried sole filet with granny smith apples slivers, lime vinaigrette and cashew nuts. One of my favorite dishes here at Issara. Fish is sweet and flaky.

Last entree was a "Duck with Red Curry" - roasted duck in a red curry, grape tomatoes, lychee and fresh basil. This dish is not on their regular menu. David the owner, just brought back the recipe from Thailand. Another real winner.

Dessert was a Thai Tea Creme Brulee. Not overly sweet and served with mixed berries. A nice ending to an very good meal. Another successful  dinner for Margie.

So many white wines on the table tonight. I did not taste most of the wine.

I brought a 2013 Tercero "Outlier", a dry Gewurztraminer. Perfect with Thai food. Not overly sweet like the Rieslings tonight.

Other wines:

NV Segura Viudas, Cava, Rose -  very good
2013 Bel Vino Riesling - a little sweet for me
2012 Denner Viognier - did not taste as I am not into that grape varietal
20190 Le Couvier Pinot Noir - did not taste
NV Canals and Nubiola, Cava - did not taste
2011 Seghesio, Zinfandel - did not taste
2012 Red Newt Cellars, semi-dry Rielsing - did not taste
2012 Williams Selyen, Limestone Ridge at Vista Verde Vineyard, Chenin Blanc - excellent wine and paired very well with the food
2011 Williams Seylem, Central Coast, Pinot Noir - seemed to be not quite up to what it really should be
NV  Laurent-Perriet, Brut, Maison Fondee 1812 - very good
2012 Lincourt, Wllie Mae, Pinot Noir - good
NV Divici, Prosecco - good
2013 Stolo, Gewurztraminer - did not taste
2007 Williams Selyem, Peay Vineyards, Pinot Noir - excellent wine, a pleasure to drink


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dim Sum and the Boys

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Busy week for being on vacation. Five of us today for Dim Sum at the Seafood Palace.  Started out with a plate of Chinese Broccoli from the cart along with Cheong Fun (rice noodle wrapped shrimp) and the BBQ pork dumplings.

 After that Henry surprised us with the House special lobster, pan stir fried with special noodles. These noodles had a bite to them. Not soft but good texture and flavor. Sauce on this dish was finger lickin. Good dish. We had not had lobster in a long time.

Then onto Lo Mai Gai ( sticky steamed rice in lotus leaf) and Beef filet with snow peas. 3 Cabs today, needed beef.

Finished with Salt and Pepper Calamri and Hot and Sour soup.

Dessert was the Daan Taat (egg custard tart).

No one consulted each other on the wines so it was a coincidence that three McKeon-Phillips BPR Cabernets were on the table. 07, 08 and 10. Seven was very good, great year. Next the 10 and then the 08

Also was a Segura Viudas Rose and I brought a 08 Roar Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. This wine was on the slight downhill slide. Not as much bright fruit. Drinkable but sliding. A little disappointed in it.

Another nice lunch with the boys. We keep this group limited to singles. Henry is married but his wife never joins us as she is not into wine so in our eyes he is single for those few hours. Couples always pair up with other couples. Very rarely are we singles ever included when they go out for dinners, happy hour etc., Women on the whole are insecure and men don't want to rock the boat with a insecure mate.  So we have decided to only pair up with other singles for these lunches and once in awhile dinners. We have a lot more fun that way.

Antinori Wines at Michael's on Naples

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Four of us tonight for a wine dinner at Michaels on Naples, Got there right at 7:00 and found out we were seated upstairs. I had a hissy and wasn't quiet about it either.  The other 3 were already seated so I climbed the stairs slowly. After greeting everyone we discussed the situation. Pitched a bitch with the waitstaff (not their fault) we were finally told that there would be a table downstairs available in 10 minutes and we could move. Meantime they finally get around to serving the first wine. 20 minutes later we get the first course. Then they decided to move us. After a slow climb downstairs we were seating in the room off the side where they have private events. Much quieter and much more comfortable.

Waited awhile before we got our menus and second glass of wine. They were clearly overbooked and the waitstaff and kitchen were having a hard time keeping up the pace.

Dinner was excellent. First course was Kauai prawn. Meyer lemon marmalade and watercress. A 2013 Orvieto Superiore "San Giovanni" Castello Della Sala was paired. Good combination.

Next up was Orecchiette con Conigliuo. Pasta with Devil's Gulch Ranch rabbit sausage.  Another excellent dish. Wine served was a 2009 Chianti Classico "Gran Selezione" Badia di Passignano. Good wine and good pairing.

Third course was a hand rolled ricotta pasta with Liberty Farm duck stew and Percornio Toscano.  My favorite dish of the night. Paired with a 2010 Brunbello di Montalcino, Plan delle Vigne. My favorite wine of the night.

Main course was a grilled Porterhouse steak, forest mushrooms and sunchokes. I was stuffed. Ate one piece of steak and had them box it up to take home. The wine served was my least favorite of the night. A 2012 Tignanello. Tenuta Tignanello.

Dessert was a  cheese plate which I gave to Marc. I just could not eat anymore. They served a 2012 Merlot "Cont 'Ugo" Tenuta Guado al Tasso. Gave that to Marc also.

Food was excellent,  waitstaff was doing as best they could. This dinner was clearly way overbooked. Apparently we were not the only ones complaining about being seated upstairs. $132 and I have to sit in a noisy space with my ear roasting  on one side because of the space heaters and freezing on the other side, Plus the noise. Don't think so. They could have added a second dinner on Thursday night and avoided the bad customer relations.

SLO Wine Country Harvest on the Coast

November 6, 2015

On the road about 9:30 am today. Have a long drive to Avila Beach with a few stops. Decent traffic but still hit enough to be irritating. No way to get through downtown LA and the valley without slowing down somewhere.

Arrived in Buellton just after 1:00 and stopped in at Terravant for lunch.  The elevator is broken so I had to hike up the stairs.  My hip is in bad shape right now and it was not pleasant. Had  the best BLT's ever. Chibatta bread with lettuce, tomato and applewood smoked bacon. Selected a half glass of Ken Brown Sta. Rita Hills Pinot and a half glass of Dragonette 7 Syrah. Both good choices.

Then down the road to Huber Cellars. Needed to pick up wine an visit with Norman and Traudl for an hour. They were telling me they got 2,000 lbs of grapes an acre  this year and Clos Pepe on the other side of Hwy 246 from them only got 500 pounds per acre. Not a good start for Kathryn Hall who just took a 15 year lease on the Clos Pepe vineyards.

After an hour took off to get into Avila Beach at a decent time. Needed to stop at Trader Joes to get few things for breakfast every day while I am up here. Pulled into he San Luis Bay Resort about 5:30. A long day. Hip is in bad shape. Could barely walk. Unloaded the car onto a cart and checked in. Naturally since I am having problems walking this year my room is on the 4th floor and the very end of the building. At least it is quiet here. And so glad I did not opt for the winemaker dinner tonight.

Saturday  morning went to the golf course next to the resort for the wine festival. Had early admission so got to taste some library wines. Talked to a few new comers in the area. Too bad I am at the tail end of my wine buying days. Some really nice new wineries. Lots of good food and a lot of wine. Spent the rest of the day stretched out on the couch to get pressure off the hip.

Sunday got a late start which was OK with me. Headed to the Edna Valley to Wolff Vineyards. They make some of the best Petite Syrah around.  Tastings in SLO are free today if you have your wristband from the festival.. Then back to Avila. Stopped in at Sinor-Lavalle and tasted Mike's new white label and black label pinots. Black label is fruit and jammy. Cocktail wine. White label is only 13% alcohol and is a great food wine.  Came out of there with 9 bottles. Mike sent me down the street to a new tasting room. Clutoh. Good wines but pricey. Came away with 2 blends but at $55 each hope I like them when I get home as well as I do now.  Decided to eat out tonight and went into Shell Beach to Kanpai Sushi.  Had a Morimoto Imperial beer and the Nigri Omakase sushi plate which consisted of Tuna, Yellow Tail, Sea Breen, Albacore, Red Sea Bass, Shrimp, Scallops and I added Spanish Mackerel and Fresh Water Eel. I was surprised at the quality of the fish. They fly it in twice a week from Japan.. Their other menu items looked really good. Will have to come back to this place.

Monday I decided  to go  into Los Olivos to pick up wine and have lunch. Stopped at Stolpman and Tercero. By time I left Bacon and Brine was getting ready to close to no pig for me right now. Hit a lot of heavy rain on the way back to Avila. Stopped in at the Cracked Crab, for an early dinner. Had to have the cup of clam chowder along with  crab cakes and abalone. Had a glass of Verdad, Albarino. Tasted like 7-UP.

Tuesday, my last day. Cutting the trip short this time.  Did a little shopping, Target. Home Goods and Costco. Always like to see the local wines that the stores in the area carry. Then down to Pismo Beach and stopped in at the Taste of The Valley wine bar. Always make this stop. They carry a good variety of local wines. Tasted the 2012 Lucia Garys Pinot, 2012 Pianetta Paso Robles Sangiovese, 2013 Ricky Hill Tempranillo, 2012 Hoyt Paso Robles Cabernet, NV 08-09-10, Margerum Syrah, 2013 Opolo Mountain Zinfandel and a 2012 Clayhouse Petite Syrah. Wanted to go to Ember tonight for dinner. That is the new hot restaurant in Arroyo Grande. While  in the Taste of the Valley, the owner Lisa pointed out a man who turned out to be the the owner-chef of Ember. They are closed on Monday and Tuesdays. Out of luck tonite. So I left and walked across the street to Giuseppe's for dinner. Not to busy when I walked in by by time I left they were packed. Had a 2011 Damilano Barolo along with Osso Bucco (veal) for dinner. The plate came with Saffron Risotto and Zucchini that had  been spiraled cut like spaghetti.

Wednesday got on  the road about 8:00 am. 40 degrees. Winter is coming. Stopped in Buellton to gas up. 50 cents a gallon cheaper than Pismo. Got home about noon. Then of all  things the damm elevator in the building is down and I have to walk up the stairs.  Had to have my son carry  everything up and put the 5 cases of wine the garage. Glad it is cold now. Good trip but the hip issue has to be resolved. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Festival of Autumn Harvest at Franco's

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

This was the 4th wine dinner at Franco's,, So looking forward to it and so disappointed. Last week it was announced that live music would be provided.  I am not a fan of live music with dinner. I want food and conversation. No way do I want to have to stop talking or eating to applaud some entertainer. To me that is what bars and lounges are for. Plus the db level. I will say that the group that played was very good, not overly loud but Franco's is such a small place that even normal conversations are too loud. We were seated right below a speaker so that did not help the situation.

All wines tonight are private labels. Susan was pushing the private label bit for the holidays. Buy a case with your own "label" for the holidays. Not my thing.

First course was a Zuppa di Zuppa con Gruviera.  Roasted Pumpkin, Gruyere Cheese, Carrots, Onions Leeks,and Pumpkin Seeds. Excellent. By far the best dish of the day. This dish was worth the aggravation of the evening. They poured a "Franco's", Pinot Noir from Italy. Decent wine, not great but drinkable. Generous pours. I had to stop them pouring a full glass after the third one.

Second course served was another winner. Insalata di Barnanietole Arrosto. Endive Lettuce, Roasted Beets, Tarragon Vinaigrette. Very good. But the wine was another thing.  "Franco's" Chardonnay (Lodi). Weak, slightly oaked. Left most of in the glass. Not worth the effort.

Entree was a Filetto Mignon a la Rossini. Filet Mignon, Crouton, Pate, Truffles, Demi-Glaze. The piece of meat was set on the crouton with the pate on top of the meat. Small pieces of truffle could be tasted. Demi-Glaze was very good and had lots of flavor. Unfortunately the steak was close to being well done, which makes it almost dry and no flavor. What a huge disappointment. I did see several other steaks that looked like they were medium well but not in my case. I am a "rare" steak person and I just could not get over the disappointment of the meat. There were glazed carrots, green beans and roasted potatoes on the plate.  Wine paired with this dish was a "Franco's" Old Vine Zinfandel (Lodi). Again a decent wine, fruit forward but lacking in any complexity and layers.

Dessert is a Tortino di Mele. Tart Apples, Cinnamon, Sugar, Caramel and Vanilla Ice Cream. Good flavor but my apple was almost burned around the edge. It was a simple dessert but good. But nothing special to get excited about. The wine was a "Franco's" Sparkling Moscato (Lodi). Tasted like 7-UP.

There was a bottle of Franco's" Syrah (Lodi) opened. I had a small taste and that was enough for me. Very mediocre.  So of all the wines the Pinot was the best but even it was not that good. I guess Terry and I were in the minority because the other diners were raving about the food and wine. So disappointed in tonight's dinner and wines. The last 3 dinners have been great and even the wines , all from Italy, were good even if they were not expensive. They were great food wines.