Friday, July 25, 2014

High End at The Hobbit

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Hobbit restaurant in Orange , wwwhobbitrestaurant.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 but 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.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fuego at The Maya

Wednesday. July 23, 2014

Time to check out Fuego and try some food dishes in order for Margie to set a menu for an upcoming wine dinner.

I had not been down in that area of Long Beach for many years. The streets are tricky so I gave myself plenty of time. So after ending up at the Queen Mary once and driving past the Aquarium twice I managed to see a very small sign that indicated the turn to the hotel. I have never been able to understand why they had to make access in this area so difficult. I know the port is there but it just seems like there could be a better way of accessing the correct street to be on.

The view of the bay is beautiful. We were seated outside and the weather was perfect. My only complaint is that they have put up a bar seating area along the whole length of the outdoor dining area and with people seated there it does block you view.

This is Dine LA Week so it was a 3 course restricted menu to choose from. Paul & Margie had the Fuego Chop Salad and both agreed it was good. I opted for the Ceviche Mercado. Beautiful presentation and flavor was very good. But I think I prefer the traditional ceviche with many types of seafood. Served in a martini style glass with shrimp, chopped vegetables, a red sauce, avocado and sliced jicama on top. Two thins of fried plantain decorated the dish.

For the main course we had three options. Two of us decided on the Ropa Vieja.  braised flank steak, (stringy) on corn tortillas with some black beans, cabbage jalapeno clintro slaw, agave cream sauce and carmelized plantains. Meat had good flavor, the slaw was a  perfect accompaniment,  could not taste too much of the jalapeno and cilantro and the agave sauce was very good.

Paul had the Seafood Crepas. Crepes with lump crab meat and rock shrimp, roasted poblano sauce, black bean corn relish. Paul said it was good and it looked like it.

The other option was a Fillet of Salmon with ancho chili and honey glaze, spicy black bean sauce, jalapeno cream and sauteed greens.

For dessert two of us had the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with cajeta caramel sauce and roasted candied pecans, topped with a blob of whipped cream and a couple of fresh berries. the other dessrt was a Coconut Flan with cajeta caramel sauce, cinnamon crisp and fresh berries. Both desserts were very good. In retrospect I should have had the flan since it was much lighter and would have better after a heavy meal.

I brought a 2008 Bodegas, Paso Robles, Trousseau and they brought the new Angeline Jolie/Brad Pitt Rose from Provence. Beautiful color on the Rose. I would call the color "Chanpagne" instead of pinkish. It was a very light Rose but paired very well with the salads and ceviche.

We looked at the regular menu. All the dishes seem to have some spice to them. We did not find anything with to much heat. Just a slight touch of spiceness. Fuego means fire so this restauramt has a South American,  Cuban, Mexican theme to it. Presentations were very good. This was a Wednesday evening and the place was fairly full.

So Margie will know have to make choices of what dishes to have on out menu for an upcoming wine dinner she plans on having here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Its Monday So It Must Be Dim Sum At The Seafood Palace

I am starting to like taking these Mondays off as I head towards retirement. Six of us gathered around the round table today for Dim Sum. 3 hours of eating and drinking and great conversation. With six and a round table everyone feels included. One of our discussions today was the size of some of the dinners being put out there lately. 

We also bring better wines which we would not share with a larger group. That point was another discussion today. Why bring a really good wine to a dinner when half or more of the people attending level of wine appreciation is so much lower.

Started out with the deep fried seaweed rolled shrimp, steamed BBQ pork buns, steamed shrimp balls, steamed pork ribs and steamed tripe off the Dim Sum cart. Next we broke it up with the sweet and sour soup. Then off to the regular menu.

Beef with Chinese Broccoli, Salt and Pepper Calamari,  Chicken Chow Mein Hong Kong Style, Sauteed Scallops with vegetables and last a plate of Salt and  Pepper Deep Fried Sea Bass.

The favors are bold and they do go well with red wine, surprisingly. All of these dishes we have had at one time or another. Always good. My dish of the day was the Salt and Pepper Sea Bass.

For some reason today I was overly hungry. I normally do not eat as much as I did but it sure was good. Can't beat the food or the price. All this with tax and tip came to $11 per person. And we tip heavy - pays off if you are a regular.

Wines were pretty doggone good today.

2008 Loring, Keefer Vineyards, Pinot Noir - touch too fruity
2006 Orrin Swift, The Prisoner, Blend - beautiful
2006 Justin , Justification, Blend - very good
2009 Levendi, Napa, Sweetwater Ranch,  Cabernet Sauvignon - light weight 
2010 Saxum, Terry Hoage, Blend - going to be great - needs time
2008 Krupp Brothers, Veraison, Cabernet Sauvignon - great and has a few years to go


Annual Bus Trip to Wine Country

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today was Delius annual bus trip up the coast. Today's lucky wineries were Pence and Tercero.A group of 30 met at Delius. wwwdeliusrestaurant.com, for a Champagne breakfast before boarding our white chariot for the 3 hour trip. I have done 14 of the 16 bust trips that Delius had put on. The people that used to go seem to be disappearing. I only saw 6 people that had been on the trips before. But it seems like good group.

We arrived at Pence about 11:40 just a little behind schedule. First wine poured was a Rose of Pinot. Decent but I have had better. Then the group took a walk (and I have done to many vineyards tours to be thrilled with another)  up the hill to see the vineyards. I was not about the walk up that hill with my knees so I stayed behind and took a look at the dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, very friendly and well behaved. Lucky dogs had a fire hydrant in their pen. Chickens roamed the area, Off the tasting room is a 3 sided area with chairs and couches. A nice pleasant place to have our lunch.

Lunch was served about 12:45. Catered box lunches with an assortment of sandwiches and salads. I found it a little difficult to put condiments on my sandwich leaning over a low coffee table. Maybe I should have gone inside.  Food was good and Pence poured a Chardonnay and 3 Pinots. I found it interesting that they were pouring a wine that was not available. How can you sell if people can't buy. I did not buy any. I did not think it was so outstanding that I had to add it to my cellar. I have hundreds of Sta Rita Hills Pinots and do not need to add to them. Plus Pence is not in the Sta Rita Hills. They are approx one half mile outside the AVA.

Running a little late we headed for Los Olivos and Terceros's tasting room. The place is small so we split up in two groups. I was in the first group. I will go back in August and get wine from Larry. It was a zoo and I was not about the shelp wine around town. The bus was parked only a few blocks away but that was a few feet more that I wanted to carry wine.

Left Tercero and went over to Stolpman to see what was knew that I did not have.  I did buy one bottle of a Carbonic Sangiovese and put six on order for August pickup. Looked like red Koolaid. Light tasting but when I opened the bottle on the bus and had it with cheese I think I found a great wine for the patio with a cheese plate in the hot summer months. Not a real serious wine but  a fun wine.

Someone on the bus had told me about the "Garlic Guy" - went off in search of his plot of land. Right across from Qupe on the main drag (2 blocks long). Mans name is Paul and he had 73 different varieties of garlic for sale. When he sells out he closes until May of the next year. He does ship and his email is "www,garlicguy.net" . Brought home about 9 different types of garlic and I am anxious to try them.

Stopped at Qupe with Sue, she told me about the garlic guy and I found her when I stopped to buy some.
Did the higher end tasting and it was well worth it. Very solid good wines.

Back to the bus and the ride home. Got back to Delius about 7:50. A good trip with no major hiccups. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Clos Pepe Wine Dinner at Delius Restraurant

Friday. July 18, 2014

This was the second wine dinner that Clos Pepe Winery and Delius Restaurant , www.DeliusRestaurant.com, has hosted. First one was  two years ago. Wes Hagen the winemaker and vineyard manager from Clos Pepe was present and pouring his wines to compliment the food. Dave the owner of Delius let me bring in a bottle of Clos Pepe Pinot Rose Sparkling wine. I shared it with the 6 people at my table. There was not enough to give everyone a taste so if you were seated at the reps table you got the bubbles.

We started out with a Grilled Octopus, Warm Confit Potato Salad, Apple & Black Kale. The octopus was so tender and had such great flavor. Other restaurants should learn from Delius how to cook octopus This was my favorite dish of the evening. Paired with a 2012 Clos Pepe Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. A perfect combination.

Second course was a House Cured Salmon, Pickled Shallots, Cucumber, Black Radish, Shiso, Micro Wasabi. What can I say - so good. Perfect combination of flavors. A 2013 Axis Mundi Rose of Mouvedre was poured with this dish and again another perfect pairing. Interesting to taste the Clos Pepe Rose and compare it to Tercero Rose. Both winemakers source from the same vineyard for their grapes. Shows what different winemakers will do with like.

Third course came out of the kitchen. Smoked Duck Breast (cherry wood), Bing Cherry Pinot Noir Reduction, Watercress Salad.. This duck was outstanding. Served room temperature. Fantastic flavor. BUT - I have never been able to get into watercress. It has the leaves and stems and even if you cut it you still seem to get stems poking out of your mouth at odd angles. Maybe it just me but I can't get the hang of eating watercress genteel, so I just ignore it. I just wish that the greens would have been different.  Wine was a 2011 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir. A perfect pairing.

Fourth course was a Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Cauliflower Goat Cheese Gratin.  Pork was great but the gratin was so good. Wine served was a 2011 Axis Mundi Grenache/Syrah.  Another good pairing.

All pairings tonight were good. Cannot understand why other restaurants can't do the same. And the WOPN. I am still ticked off at that organization and the lousy wine dinners I paid through the nose for.

Dessert was a Apricot Tartlett with House Made Cinnamon Ice Cream. Good flavor but I really appreciated the ice cream. After a large meal I prefer something light for dessert. And I do miss the Russian Cream Delius used to serve. For some reason I seem to have fonder memories of the desserts served years ago that I have in the past year. 

So another good dinner at Delius and looking forward to next week. The Hobbit and Delius again along with Dim Sum and a new place called Fuego.

Monday, July 14, 2014

BBQ in The Harbor

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Normally I would not post something like this as it was just a casual gathering with mostly non-wine people. But - I cannot conceive how somebody can screw up the main course .  We had shortribs which the person providing them had seasoned and pre-cooked at home then finished up on the bbq, The seasoning flavor was good. The meat was bone dry, grissely and not tender at all, Otherwise cheap meat and was not braised at all. Why bother, a waste of money and effort. The rest of the meal was great and at least the two bottles of wine I brought made me happy.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Doug's Downtown Grill

Saturday. July 12, 2014

This month for Margie's Fun Wine Activity we headed over to Garden Grove  for Doug's Downtown Grill, www.dougsdowntowngrill.com, in old Historic Garden Grove. Looks like a typical local watering hole but with a very large dining area in back.

We started with a wine tasting in the bar area. Wines were from  Doug's "cellar". We started off with a Gloria Ferrer, Va de Vi,  sparkling wine. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Moscato.  Nice taste but nothing spectacular. I was unfamiliar with this wine so I looked it up on the website. They list it under their premium wines and retails for $22. I really prefer the pink label of Gloria Ferrer that you can get in some grocery stores for $16.

Next was a 2011 Davis-Bynum, River West Vineyard, Russian River, Chardonnay. No oak on the nose but a light oak taste on the palate. Aged 10 months in new French oak and 2 months in stainless. This would be good with some "fat" to cut the oak. We were served a "pita bread" pizza. Lots of toppings and very good. It also paired well with the wine.

A 2011 Davis-Bynum, Janes Vineyard, Russian River, Sonoma, Pinot Noir came our way. A good wine, again nothing outstanding but a solid wine.

Last was a 2010 Niner, Boot Jack Ranch, Paso Robles, Cabernet Sauvignon. Big disappointment. All fruit and no structure. This wine will be gone in just a few years. Drink now. I did not finish this wine.  They served a "fried eggroll" made with Chorizo and Hatch chili's. Excellent flavor but it sure clashed with the wine.

The room was a bit noisy and Doug stood at the end of the first table to tell us what wines and or food we were having. Most of the time I could not hear what he was saying. It was like the second table did not exist for him.

After the tasting a few more join us for dinner in the dining area. Ulda, a waitress we used to have at Preveza is now at Doug's Downtown Grill and was assigned to our table. It was nice to see her again. We had our choice of dishes. I took the onion soup which was very good but a bit salty. Others had the house made clam chowder and they were happy with their choice. A salad was also offered. Main courses were steak, pork chop or halibut. I opted for the macadamia nut crusted halibut. The halibut was way to thin. Would have preferred a smaller piece but thicker so I could taste the fish. As it was the crust over whelmed the fish.  Several people had the 16 oz Pork Chop. Most said theirs was on the dry side. The 12 oz Sirloin steak had mixed reviews. Dessert was a choice of house made buttermilk pie and creme brulee. The pie was excellent but the  creme brulee looked scorched.

So mixed reviews on Doug's. I would go back and try the place again, give it a second chance. But it would have to up its game for me to keep it on my list of where to go places.

An assortment of wines were brought. Several I tasted but did not get to all of them. I needed several more glasess to be able to pour the wines. It seems every time a wine was offered from the other end of the table  I had wine in my glass already. I would have liked to try the Rose and the Cortese de Gavi but it didn't work out.


2007 Loring,  Russell Family Vineyard, Paso Robles,  Pinot Noir
2011 Loring, Santa Lucia Highlands, Pinot Noir
2007 Acre, Central Coast, Merlot
2004 Cellar Magic, Vandenkamp Vineyard, Sonoma Mtn. Pinot Noir
2012 Waterbrook, Columbia Valley, Chardonnay
2007 Tolo, Paso Robles, Mouvedre
NV   Rodederer Estate, Anderson Valley,  Brut, Sparkling
2010 Evening Land, Evening Land Estate, Sta. Rita Hills, Pinot Noir
2012 Pio Cesare, Italy,  Cortese de Gavi,
2009 Windward, Paso Robles, Monopole, Pinot Noir
2013 Denner, Paso Robles, Rose
2010 Petit Guiraud, Sauterne