Friday, May 29, 2015

Baba Ghanouj

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Seven of us tonight at Baba Ghanouj in Long Beach.,  We ended up ordering  lots af appetizers and then a main dish along with the basmati rice. Then split the bill. Personally I would have preferred ordering my own main dish but sometimes you have to go with the flow. It did make it much easier for the waitstaff.

Started out with the traditionals.  Baba Ghanouj (eggplant with garlic and Tahini) and Hummus. served with fresh Pita bread.

Then came the Sauteed Potatoes (garlic, lemon, chile, cilantro and tahini). I can really get into this dish. It is good. Also had the Karmaheet (fried cauliflower with tahini). Again good flavor. Both of these could become favorites.

Warak Enab (vegetarian grape leaves). Small but very tasty. Last appetizer was the Spinach Fatayer (spinach, onion, lemon, olive oil and walnuts) wrapped in a pastry dough and fried. Similar to an Empanada. Flavor was good but I felt the dough was a little thick and heavy.

For the main dish, I balked at the Shish Kabob because the meat is always so dry. So CJ ordered the lamb chops cooked to different doneness.  Terry and I had the so called medium rare. One of mine was medium and the other well done. Flavor was good but I cannot go for the damm dry meat. It just hangs in your throat and I do not enjoy it at all. At this time I was really wishing we could have ordered our own mains. I would have opted for the Lamb Shank.

We also had Chicken Shawarma for a main. Good flavor and thankfully moist. But we had so many appetizers that by this time I was full and not wanting anymore food. I can really make an entire dinner out of appetizers.

A nice interesting selection of wines. some went with the food and others did not.

2009 Clos Pepe, HTC Chardonnay - nice wine
2009 Dragonette, Fiddlestik Vineyard, Pinot Noir - showing well
NV   Veuve Cliquot, Champagne - always good
2007 Sea Smoke, Botella, Pinot Noir - very good
2010 LaPosta Colina, Tinto - would have gone with a different line of food better
2012 Schlossberg, Grand Cru, Pinot Gris - too sweet
2008 Tablas Creek, Espirit de Beaucastel Ponopile, blend - went well with the lamb
2013 Richioli, Rose of Pinot Noir - A little sweeter than I like my Rose's
There also was a Cremant on the table but the name did not get written down

May Winos

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Made the trek to Redondo Beach for our monthly gathering of the wino's.  Host made great ribs for the main dish and lots of complimentary food was brought.

Today's theme was red Wines From The Barossa Valley and French Champagnes.  All the bubblies were good. A couple of stand outs were the Robert Moncuit Grand Cru Brut, Moet & Chandon Imperial.  A 2004 Dom Perignon really needed a couple more years. It was good but would be much better cellared a little longer.

I concentrated on the bubblies and had just a small pour of the reds. It is a bit of a drive to get back home. The 1993 Hallet Old Block Shiraz was good along with a 2008 Kaesler Shiraz.  The 2011 Two Hands Bellas Garden Shiraz was good but young. A few more years on that one also.

La Choza

Friday, May 22, 2015

Read about this place and decided to check it out. Rated one of the Top 75 Restaurants in OC. Traditional Mexican food. Nothing fancy but very good.  When you pass the entrance to go into the main dining room there are women making handmade corn tortillas. Small size and a little thicker than your store bought.

I had the Chile Verde. Pork was tender and verde sauce was excellent. Other dishes were the Beef Enchilada plate and a Pork and Avocado Wet Burrito.

 Big negative was how fast they tried to push the alcohol drinks on you. We hadn't even got settled when the waiter was asking for our drinks orders.  They have a very limited wine list. Only varietals listed at $6.50 per glass. That can be scary. Their corkage was $19 which is totally unreasonable for this place. If they had a decent wine list maybe.  We all know alcohol is a big money maker at restaurants but this place really does push it. I ordered a Margarita and it was good.

I would go back if I had a hankering for traditional Mexican food.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Road Trip to Solvang Day 3

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Last day, going home on Monday. Met some of  the group at Avant,,  in Buellton for a tasting at 1:00. Had pizza, bacon wrapped dates with goat cheese which was really good and a raw vegetable plate. Liked the pizza and bacon wrapped dates but the raw vegetable plate was not my thing. Cauliflower cucumbers and carrots with a sauce probably made of pequino peppers along with pita bread. Raw vegetables at a wine tasting just does not go together. I don't care how "healthy" it is.  Avant uses prepaid cards to access the wine in the despensing machines. Tasted about 6 different wines. Avant is a custom crush facility and a lot of the wines are very small production.

Leaving Avant I headed over to Los Olivos to pick up wine at Stolpman and Tercero., Spent about an hour at Tercero tasting the new releases. Came away with a mixed case. I am a fan of his Rose of Mouvedre, The Outliner which is a dry Gerwurztraminer and now his newest release an Albarino.

Stopped by the Garlic Guy in Los Olivos but alas he was not open. need to replenish by stock. He saells over 50 varieties of garlic.

Dinner tonight is at the Hitching,  Everyone of course ordered steak. I had the 5 oz petite filet along with a baked potato. Also came with salad and a choice of soup or shrimp cocktail. My steak was very tender, have really good flavor and was cooked perfectly. 

New wines tonight.

2008 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir is what I brought. Showing really well. I think I drank more of this than any other wine. Suited my palate.

Cookes brought  2012 Doffo Vineyards, Temecula, Cabernet Sauvignon - did not taste. And also the dessert wine from the first night that never got opened. A 2007 Laura Zahtila, "Lauras Theme". A blend of Petite Syrah and Zinfandel.  A little to "sweet" for me.  I like rich but not sweet.

The Sands opened a Twomey, Sauvignon Blanc and a 2012 Carol Shelton Zinfandel., Did not taste either of these wines. I am unfamilar with Carol Shelton.

Blackburns brought a 2012 Kosta Browne, Russian River, Pinot Noir. Nice wine but way to young to be opened. I will open my 2012 's in about 3 to 4  years. They also had a 2009 Silver Oak, Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. Did not taste. I am not a fan of Silver Oak. Way over priced for what it is.

The Moselys had a 2011 Justin, Isosceles, Paso Robles, Cabernet Sauvignon. Had a small taste of this wine. Nice. But again I am not a fan of Justin. Overpriced for what it is. But then I am also not a real big fan of Cabernet. So it is probably me and my taste in wines.

I do not know what was in everyone tonight but they were LOUD.  A table next to us asked to be moved because our table was so noisy. It was even noisy for me. Frankly I was happy to be the first one to leave.  Maybe it was too much wine tasting in the afternoon and everyone was geared up. I was just so glad to get away from the noise. Margie and I were the only quiet ones. At least we were seated at the end of the table I would have hated to be in the middle. I left the waiter a very large tip to make up for the noise and everyone having him take pictures of the table. Why 3 or 4 cameras ? Anyone heard of sharing.

So I leave in the morning to travel back to the OC.  A very good weekend.

Road Trip to Solvang Day 2

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The tour vehicle picked us up at 10:00 to head towards Clos Pepe Vineyards,      Did the vineyard tour and had the tasting at the big house.  There was 9 in our group and 8 in another, We were seated in the main dining room Tasted the line up of wines. I have done this several times but it was a new experience to the others. Second stop was Stolpman Vineyards in Ballard Canyon,  Had lunch outdoors overlooking the expanse of lawn and out onto the vineyards. Last stop was Grassini in Happy Canyon,,  That was a new one for me. Our tour company was Stagecoach Tours,,   and they did and excellent job. In spite of running late at Clos Pepe and Stolpman we still finished on time in the afternoon. First time for me to go on a "tour". I usually do my own thing.

Dinner tonight is in Solvang at the Succulent Cafe., Getting there we were told we would be seated outside. No Way. It was cold and windy. After Margie arrived she got the reservation straightened out and after about 15 minutes seated outside we were given a table inside. Everyone brought their leftover wines from Friday nights dinner. Only 2 new wines opened A 2006 Hartford, Russian River Zinfandel from the Blackburns and a 2013 Tensely, Lea, from the Cookes.  Several of us ordered the soup which was a Potato Corn. Good flavor but luke warm. Should have been hot.  I had the Braised Short Rib with Smoked Grits, seasonal greens and crispy cajun onions. Good flavor, meat was tender.

Several people order the Three Little Pigs.  Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with a Pork Gravy, hence the "3", with greens and potato cakes. Another dish was the Crispy Seared Duck Breast, Buttemilk Mash, Carmelized Onions, greens and stone fruit gastrique. Everyone seemed happy the their dishes. One person ordered a salad and had to send it back several time. So pros and cons with this restaurant. They have had a really good reputation but I did find out there has been some ownership / partner changes. Only time will tell if they keep on a good track or succumb to whatever.

Road Trip to Solvang - Day 1

May 15, 2015

Nine of us wino's made the road trip this weekend. I left work at noon and it took 3 hours to get to Buellton. Heavy traffic. I expected the trip to be 30 minutes shorter as I was leaving from work which would be closer and be less miles. I did average 38 mpg for the entire trip which made me happy.

I arrived in Buellton about 3:00 and headed over to Huber Vineyards. Had a nice long visit with Norman and Traudl.  Checked in to my hotel and got ready to go into Solvang to meet up with everyone for dinner.

Margie had arranged for dinner at the Mad+Vin restaurant in the Landsby Hotel,,     where a few of the group was staying, I opted out because the  daily rate was ridiculous. I got 3 nights for the same price as 1 night at the Landsby. That gave me an extra $600 to spend on wine.

Dinner was a 7:00. Restaurant was nice and fairly quiet except for the proximity to the bar. Noisy group that apparently kept the noise going to much later in the evening. This restaurant did charge us $10 per bottle corkage. No other place did.  A variety of food was ordered. Several of us had the lamb shank which was huge. Came with some red vegetables, probably peppers on top which made it look like a hat. A bone protruded from the side and it did look like a "head". Quite original and flavor was good. I had ordered the soup of the day which was exceptionally good. Vegetables with a goat cheese topped hunk of bread floating in it. Everyone seemed happy with their meals.

A lot of wine on the table.

I brought a 2013 Huber Charlottes Reserve, Dornfelder. Big, dark, inky wine and it did pair perfectly with the lamb.

The Sands brought a Acquiesce, Grenache Blanc and a Kessler Hawk Pinot Noir. They did not write the years down or the vineyards so I have no further information. Nor do I really remember tasting the wines.

The Cookes brought a 2010 Larner, Santa Ynez Valley, Syrah which was quite good and went well with the lamb.  They also noted a dessert wine but it did not get opened until Sunday night. Way too many wines on the table.

Paul and Margie brought a 2008 Dusky Goose, Dundee Hills, Pinot Noir and a 2011 Peter Michael "La Carriere" Chardonnay. Had some of the Pinot which is always good and passed on the Chardonnay. I know it was oaky.

The Blackburns brought 4 wines. 2012 Schramsberg, Blanc de Blanc Brut, 2010 Schramsberg, Blanc de Noirs Brut. Both were very nice and I had a lot of both of them. A 2011 Gary Farrell, Russian River, Maffei Vineyard, Zinfandel and a 2013 Flowers, Sonoma Coast, Chardonnay. Neither one did I taste.

So day 1 down and looking forward to day 2.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Seafood Palace with the Boys

Wednesday. May 13, 2015

Dinner tonight with the boys. Five of us in attendance. It was a parade driving into the parking lot. 3 cars in row heading for the restaurant. Perfect timing. Good group tonight. We closed the restaurant. For some reason a lot of jokes and humor tonight.

Started out with  the "normal" Salt and Pepper Calamari. Can never get too much of this - very addicting. The restaurant comped us a bowl of Sweet Sour soup, which they normally do for our group along with a comped dessert.

Next dishes were the Honey Walnut Shrimp, as always great flavor and very tender and the shrimp were very fresh. Then a  plate of Scallops with vegetables stir fried. Scallops were sweet and cooked perfectly.

Two more dished rounded out the meal. Beef with Fat Noodles and Black Bean Sauce and a plate of Chinese Broccoli with Pork strips. The beef was excellent and had really good flavor. The pork was ok but nothing wrong with it. Just did not wow me.

We ended the meal with Almond Pudding and Fortune Cookies. Several of us had no fortunes in our cookies so we got another order. I still had no fortune. That could work both ways.

Wines were a real mix,

2009 Domiane Pierre Guillenot, Savigny-Les-Beaune, white Burgundy. Went well with the seafood. I bought this wine at a tasting years ago at Wine Country. Glad to see that it was still as good as I remembered.

2009 Tensley, Lea, Turner Vineyards, Pinot Noir. Nice wine, took a bit to open up.

2006 Melville, Carries Vineyard, Pinot Noir. A bit disappointed in this wine. Have tasted it before and this bottle was not quite there.

2003 Antoniolo, Gattinara, Vendemmia, Nebiollio . Just past prime. Probably great last year.

2005 McKeon-Phillips, BPR, Cabernet Sauvignon - showing very well - my last bottle of 05

2008 McKeon-Philiips, BPR, Cabernet Sauvignon - not as good as the 05