Sunday, April 20, 2014

Delius Restaurant and The Second Tercero Wine Dinner

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Larry Shaffer from Tercero wines made the 3 hour trek  to Signal Hill to pour his wines at dinner tonight at Delius Restaurant,  The menu is the same but the wines will be different from the dinner a few weeks ago so it will be an interesting comparison.

Got to the restaurant and saw Larry in the bar. Went over to talk with him and he said that the restaurant said I was not doing the dinner tonight. This was a shock to me since as soon as Dave sent me an email with the date I replied to him to sign me up. Lesson to be learned "do not rely on the owner to take care of things" without a follow up to Fred. So I ended up sitting with Tim & Maria who are great dining companions. Would have been interesting to see the back room shuffle trying to set up a place setting for me before we were seated. Later in the evening the subject of the Whiskey tasting  next Wednesday came up. My name was not down for that also. So Dave said he would make sure they had a place for me (it is sold out).

Again the menu is the same as last dinner , just the difference in the wines. And a whole room full of new people in attendance. I was the only repeat. Dinner again a complete sell out

We started out with Seared Wild Scallop, White Corn Pudding, Roasted Pine Nuts, Micro Basil. Paired with a 2012 Tercero Viognier. Good pairing as last time. The scallop seemed sweeter but the Viognier went well with the dish as did the Grenache Blanc did a few weeks ago. I am not a Viognier fan, in fact I am not a white Rhone wine fan, but this Viognier was not overly floral and quite good.

Second course was the Rhubarb Apple Stuffed Pork Loin, Watercress, Raisins, Celery Root Puree. This pork seemed to me to be a lot more tender than last time and had more flavor. The Watercress was all right. Not a huge fan of that either and unless you cut it when you put a forkful on your mouth you have all these damm stems sticking out. The Celery Root Puree was just the right touch. A 2013 Tercero Mouvedre Rose was poured. This wine was just bottled Friday and still a little in shock. But the potential is great. This one of my favorite wines that Larry makes. I bought six bottles of it. Probably should have bought a case. I may think about it and contact Larry to change my order before it ships. It seems strange to some to have a rose with pork but it was a perfect match. This rose is not sweet and has a lot of body to it.

Third course was set down. Rack of Lamb, Creamy Polenta, Brussels Sprouts, Blackberry Coulis. Delius does such a great job with rack of lamb. Had a rack at Franco's Friday night and it was good but this one tonight is so much better. Not gamey at all,  great flavor. Picked up the bones and cleaned them off as did a lot of other people. The polenta was perfect. Paired with a 2010 Tercero Larner Vineyard Syrah. Beautiful wine. This dish was very consistent to what we had last time.

Fourth course , and I am still eating - Grilled Flat Iron Steak, Beluga Lentils, Roasted Baby Carrots, Juniper-Rosemary Demi and a 2010 Tercero Mouvedre. Great wine. I first tasted Tercero wines a several years ago at a Santa Barbara wine tasting at Wine House in Los Angeles.  Came across the new kid on the block, Larry Shaffer and was blown away by his Mouvedre. Have followed him ever since. Don't buy enough wines from him but I think that may be changing. A lot of the wineries that I buy from are all starting to taste alike and that needs to change. Don't know if it is my palate or the winemakers trying to be like someone else. But a change is coming. This dish was also consistent to what we had last dinner. A perfect pairing.

Dessert was different. A Warm Anise Cake, Strawberry Coulis ad Caramel Ice Cream. Very good.

Sat at the table and talked while Larry went around and filled orders for people that were taking wines home tonight. Dave cam up with clean glasses and a couple bottles of wine. Larry joined us and we sat there until about midnight and talked. Interesting to hear what is going on in the Santa Barbara area wine industry.  So many really good wines showing up and it is getting hard to justify paying higher prices for some of these wines. Many, many really good wineries that have fair pricing are available. Quit looking at the "cult" wines that you would not know what they are if brown bagged and no label was there for you to be influenced by.

 This was a  really late night for me. But a very enjoyable evening

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Friday Night at Franco's

Friday, April 19, 2014

Called my friend Terry to see how he was recovering from hip replacement surgery and he was in a "get out of dodge" mood. We agreed to meet at Franco's Italian Restaurant in Cypress. Easy drive for him and an easy swing by for me coming home from work.

For a Friday night the restaurant was surprisingly empty but within an hour it did filled up some. Because of it being Good Friday and Easter weekend I would imagine that had something to do with it. The waiter said the last 3 Fridays nights had been extremely busy.

Alex has been teaching a new waiter how to recite the specials. He does not quite have Alex's flair but it was close.

Both Terry and I ordered the Rack of Colorado Lamb. It was excellent. I opted for the Spicy Basil Tomato Soup which was very good. We both had a dessert.

 Now that they charge corkage it does bring the bill up. With tax, tip and corkage for 2 bottles the tab was $130 - that is $65 a person. We had exceptional wines so it was worth it but now unless we can negotiate corkage I will have to reconsider some things.   If they continue the corkage policy I will start leaving my own wine glasses at home and use theirs. If I have to pay at least they will have to put something out there for me to pay for. The waiter opened the wines and poured for us. I was not paying any attention and he filled my glass with about 5 ounces of wine. To me that is a big turn off. This is something I will have to keep in the back of my mind so it doesn't happen again . Usually first pour is a taste to see if the wine is good or not. This waiter had not been trained correctly.

I brought a 2005 Stolpman Angeli. Terry brought a 2000 Georges DeLatours, Private Reserve, Cabernet. The Cab had an off taste to it when first opened. We should have decanted it, But it did open up quite well but still remained a  lighter wine. The Angeli was excellent. 2005 was a good year and the wine is showing really well now.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thursday at The Himalayan

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A quick short notice get together at The Himalayan Grille in Sunset Beach.,  When I stopped by Wednesday night to inform them that there would be six for dinner the next day I found out Sanjiv was no longer the manager. He left to start his own restaurant on Katella. Will have to find out where and check it out. His brother Dennis still owns the Himalayan but a new floor manager will be handling things. My concern was  "corkage". We have never paid corkage before.. Talked with a couple of waitstaff about it since the manager was not available.

Showed up early Thursday to see if I could speak with the manager. He was not there but the waitstaff informed me as long as we bring our own glasses and take care of our "wine needs" ourselves there would be no corkage. Fair enough.

I think it is real tacky to go into a restaurant that has a no corkage policy and expect them to open your wine, provide glasses and decanters and pour the wine for you. Be self sufficient if you expect favors.

We started off with Samosa's and garlic Naan.  Then off to the Lamb Saag, Lamb Korma, Tandoori Shrimp, Chicken Vindaloos, Fish Marsala and Vegetables Korma. As before all good food dishes.  have not had a dish here at the Himalayan that I did not like. Took home the rice and leftover sauces. The sauces are really good here, they excel in making them.  One of the better Indian restaurants that I have dined at.

Wines were a mixed bag. I brought a 2009 Sea Smoke Botlella which was showing really well. 2010 Gloria Ferrer Chardonnay which was nice and clean. No oak. 2011 Bryon, Santa Maria, Pinot Noir, 2009 Gordon Estate, Columbia Valley, Merlot, NV River Road Brut sparkling and a 2010 Croad, Paso Robles, Zinfandel. Dave & Judy brought a Tobin James Liquid Love dessert wine to finish the evening.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Catal Restaurant at Downtown Disney

Thursday. April 3, 2014

Attended a Brewer-Clifton/Palmina wine dinner this evening. at the Catal restaurant. Had never been to Downtown Disney even though I can drive to it in 20 minutes. Unless I would be doing a dinner at one of the restaurants I would not go there again.

Had a difficult time finding where to park. Now that I know it would be a lot easier the second time. After Valet parking you need to walk approximately 7 minutes to reach the Catal restaurant. No accommodations for handicap that we could find.  We managed to get to Catal by 7:00 but even the hosts Steve & Crystal Clifton were late. My advice , give yourself twice as much time as you think you need.

Reception was held outside on the balcony overlooking the Uva bar .Huge round bar on the outside in front of Catal. It was a busy place. We were poured a glass of 2012 Palmina Tocai Friulano, Honea Vineyard. This wine does go very well with artichokes and asparagus.. After about 30 minutes we were seated inside. The area we were at was between the inside bar, kitchen area and another dining area that was open to the public. Downside was that the waitstaff had to walk right by us the get to the other dining area. we were also on and end which made it noisier than it should have been.

An "Amuse Bouche" was served - Chicken Pate Terrine, Apricot Mostardo and Toasted Pistachios. This was served with a 2011 Palmina "Subida" Tocia Friulano. The wine was slightly effervescent, had an orange tinge to it and was very grapefuity in taste. Subida is a a method in winemaking. Whole clusters with skins on for a period of time.  I had both Tocai's with my pate and I personally preferred the 2012. The pate was very good and I really enjoyed the Mostardo. Actually would have liked a bit more of it on the plate.

First Course: Black Cod, Arroz Negro, Sugar Snap Peas, Mango and Coconut-Lemongrass Foam. Cod was cooked perfectly and the rice was a very good addition to the dish. Paired with a 2010 Brewer-Clifton 3-D, Chardonnay. Very good Chardonnay but I did not like the pairing. Others did.

Second Course: Duck Breast, Duck Confit Cigar, Hon-Shimeji Mushrooms, Kale, Dark Cherries and Anise Jus. Again cooked perfectly. Good flavors. Excellent dish  Wine was a 2011 Brewer-Clifton, Sta. Rita Hills, Pinot Noir. A very good pairing.

Third Course: Spiced Pork Belly and Scallop, Parsnip Cream, Beet Beurre Rouge, Root Vegetable Potpourri. . Dishes keep getting better. Both the pork belly and scallop are cooked perfectly and the parsnip cream really added another dimension. You would not think that these two proteins would go well together but they did. Paired with a 2011 Palmina, Santa Barbara County, Barbera. Excellent wine and again it went perfectly with the food.

Fourth Course: Grilled New York Strip, Smoked Short Rib and Onion Marmalade Ravioli, Violet Mustard, Romanesco and Thyme Jus. Steak was tender and had good flavor. The Ravioli was outstanding. They poured a 2008 Palmina, Santa Barbara County, Nebbiolo. This wine and the Barbera were my two favorites of the night.

Dessert was a Ginger-Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Strawberries, Candied Pistachios and Shortbread Cookie Crumble. This was a really fantastic dessert. No flaws at all. Perfect end to a excellent meal

They did ask at the beginning of the meal about any food allergies. Nice touch, most places don't bother. Service was very good. Very attentive staff. The Executive chef, Steven Mary came to the table after every round and asked what we thought. He gave me his his card with his number on it in case I ever had any questions. New clean flatware at every course. Clean glasses with every wine. At the beginning Marc said he though the dish lacked a little salt so a cellar of fleur de sel was given to him. They seemed to really care about your opinions. The manager came and talked with us. We addressed to noise problem with the dining area next to us. He indicated that they may move the wine dinners to another area. They plan on having many more in the future. The presentations were excellent. All the plates took on an artistic look to them. In spite of the parking and walk, I would do dinner here again.  The food and plating was similar to Delius which we all know is my favorite place. All of us were happy last night

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Red Table

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dinner at the Red Table ,, in Huntington Beach tonight. Two of my non-wine drinking friends so I ordered a glass of a Chilean Cabernet off the list. It did the trick.  Corkage here is $10 for the first bottle, $10 for the second bottle and then $25 for each bottle after that. They have a small decent wine list but nothing I am overly excited about. But really nice craft beers.

Large menu and many daily blackboard specials we started out with a plate of Red Table Fries with a spicy catsup. Everything here has a spice or kick to it.

Ordered a Flatbread with garlic and shrimp. Very good. Loads of garlic. I also ordered a bowl of Lobster Bisque. Good flavor but I do prefer the creamier version.

Brenda ordered a plate of Meatball sliders. Three sliders, very large meatballs with sauce. She said they were very good. Did not taste them

Diane order the Beer Brined Porkchops. Two large chops, caramelized red cabbage and mashed potatoes. Had a bite of the pork and it was good. Also the red cabbage was good.

I have been here several times. Food has always been good.

Large portions and lots of doggy bags going home. Maybe next time I will take a bottle of wine.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Just a Thought

A few people have questioned me on the wines we take to do the Chinese dim sum, dinners. They felt that some of the bigger wines, like Cabs, Zins etc were not good pairings. The food that we get at these authentic Chinese places usually have bold flavor. It is not you typical American style Chinese food. Just the opposite. So far we have not been disappointed in our selection of wines. Plus we usually stay for awhile after eating to have conversation and more wine. Not everything has to be matchy, matchy all the time. Enjoy food and wine and don't be so uptight about being correct.

Tercero Wines and Delius Restaurant

Friday, March 28, 2014

Larry Shaeffer of Tercero wines finally made it to Delius tonight.   Tried to get a dinner together last year but did not quite work out, This dinner was sold out a month ago with no menu decided. Shows what good wines and food will do. I was anxious to compare this dinner with the Tercero wine dinner that I attended a few weeks back at Restaurant Christine in Torrance.

Part way through the dinner the earthquake hit. We only felt one out of three. The chandler swung quite a bit. Soon as it hit people started with their phones. All these lights popped up in the dinning room. Checking to see where it was. Quite interesting how our society has changed over the last 30 years. 

First Course: Seared Wild Scallop, Corn Pudding, Roasted Pine Nuts. Scallop was cooked perfectly Perfectly paired with a 2012 Tercero Grenache Blanc.  I am glad the scallop had a really good sear on it so it contrasted with the corn pudding. Visually it need a touch of color which the sear gave. White scallop, pale pudding and pale pine nuts. Taste wise it was excellent.

Second Course: Rhubarb Apple Stuffed Pork Loin, Watercress, Currants, Celery Root Puree. This was the best dish of the night. Pork was moist and had excellent flavor. The rhubarb really added a little punch to the meat. The celery root puree was creamy and just enough flavor to compliment the pork. Wine served was a 2009 Tercero Larner Vineyard Grenache. Excellent pairing.

Third Course: Rack of Lamb, Creamy Polenta, Baby Brussels Sprouts, Blackberry Coulis, Lamb was very tender, cooked perfectly and had no gamey taste at all. The polenta was creamy (Restaurant Christine was rustic). The blackberry coulis pulled this dish together. Paired with a 2010 Tercero White Hawk Vineyard Syrah. Again a beautiful pairing.

Fourth Course: Grilled Flat Iron Steak, Beluga Lentils, Roasted Baby Carrots, Juniper-Rosemary Demi. I am not a big lentil fan. For lentils they had good flavor. My own personal taste would have been another grain, like farro or quinoa or even potatoes. Steak was tender, had good flavor. The demi added just the perfect touch but I pushed the lentils around on the plate like a kid does when they don't want to eat something. Made it look like I ate some of them. Wine poured was a 2010 Tercero, The Climb, Syrah-Petite Syrah Blend. Great wine. Big but not overly jamy. I was impressed with this wine.

Dessert was a Strawberry Shortcake (the old fashioned kind, not spongy) Meyer Lemon Sorbet and Lemon Curd. The lemon and strawberry really played off each other.

An excellent dinner with good wines. My comparison to the dinner at Restaurant Christine - Delius wins hands down. Christine was good but not on the same level. Price was almost equal but Chrstine was inclusive. But for the difference in food, service and ambiance I will hands down take Delius Several other people that did both dinners said the same thing and they had never been to Delius before. 

If things work out right there will be another Tercero dinner at Delius on April 19. The same menu with some slight adjustments to pair with different wines. Also working on another Clos Pepe dinner at Delius in July.

Now if this small restaurant in Signal Hill can produce food of this caliber and pair wines this well why can't the WOPN, Bacarra Resort, Sea Smoke Wines and Maison Louis Jadot Wines do the same. I paid  a little over $100 for dinner at Delius, had excellent food, good wines etc. The two dinners at WOPN came to $650 and were dismal. Poor quality food, mediocre pairings and rip off on prices. WOPN and the board of same should be ashamed of themselves for the screwing they gave everyone. I will probably rant about this for many months to come