Sunday, February 7, 2016

Bistro st. Germain

Saturday, February 6, 2015

Bistro St. Germain in Seal Beach was Margie's choice for the February  Parking is always a problem here so I have a tendency to try and arrive early enough to drive around several times looking for a space. Tonight was no different as downtown Seal Beach was packed. Fortunately I found a space right next to the restaurant.

 13 of us tonight and a pre-set menu. Choice of 4 appetizers - I picked the Onion Soup. Have had it here many times and it is good. Not salty like so many others and just the right amount of cheese.

For the main dish I choose the Steak Frites with the Bordelaise Sauce, Steak was very thin but had very good flavor and was tender.  Glad I ordered it rare because it came out medium.  Sauce was excellent but I do not think the fries were "Frites".  Frites are twice cooked and these did not seem to be. They also very very thin and small. Maybe thin steak is a French thing. I have never been to France except to change planes at DeGaulle airport

Dessert for me was  Mousse au Chocolat - Good flavor, chocolaty and smooth. Just the right amount for after dinner.

 Our time slot was 5:00 to 8:00 because on Saturday nights they are packed and need every table. I left at 8:10.  One 3 hours was more than enough time and the noise level was getting unbearable. Several people in the group are always extremely loud and the decibel level rises as the evening wears on.

Interesting collection of wines. Champagne was first bottle emptied and the the bottle I brought was the next dead solider. I brought at 2007 Sinor-LaValle, Anniversary Cuvee, Pinot Noir. It always boosts my ego when I bring a good wine.

2013 Pedrocelli, Dry Rose of Zinfandel - did not taste - did not even see it until several hours into the dinner.

2013 Two Vintners, Grenache Blanc - I had a small pour -decent - I have had worse but I also have had better

2012 Halter Ranch, Cotes de Paso -  did not taste

NV Nicolas Feuillate Brut Reserve Champagne - always good

2013 Louis Jadot - Pouilly-Fruisse - this is what a chardonnay is supposed to taste like

2012 Domaine Cherrier et fils, Sancerre - very good

2010 Chateau Carraud, Lalande de Pomerol, Bordeau - did not taste

2012 Alaine, Burgundy - did not taste

2014 Francois Chidaine "Les Argiles" Vouvary - nice wine

20143 Halter Ranch, Viognier - did not taste - not into Viognier

2012 Tablas Creek, Cotes de Tablas - did not taste

2009 Chateau Franc Grace Dieu, Bordeaux - nice wine , took awhile to open up

2013 Domaine Chenevieres, Chablis - good

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Meeting of The Wino's

New year - off to Santa Monica for the first of the years tastings. Light rain when I left, got very heavy about 15 miles down the freeway and then by time I got to LAX it was sunny and clear. The winds were the real problem. Buffeted the car and trash flying all over. 41 miles to gallon going up and 39 coming back. Light traffic and low speeds because of the weather.

Because of the weather Stan had everyone up to his casa above the garages in.lieu of on the lawn. Made it nice for everyone top sit around the table. Unless you have been invited for a special dinner or special wine event Stan's house is off limits. Lots a steep stairs.

A small group today because of various reasons and some just plain phony excuses. Theme today was California Sparkling's and California Red Bordeaux Blends. A lot of appetizers, Host made tri tip and chicken thighs.. Not one dessert was brought. But we had lots of really good food. Cindy brought a savory cheesecake that she made. It was really good. Someone brought spring rolls with 3 sauces. Glad I ate them early because later in the day I saw someone triple dip into the sauces. Took a roll, dipped it, ate a bite, dipped into the next sauce and took a bite and then dipped it the third time into a sauce and finished it off. Could not bring myself to eat another one.

Some very good wines today. A sparkling was the first emptied and then the wine I brought, 2009 Flora Springs, Trilogy was next to be emptied. Always boost's  my ego when my wines are one of the first to become a dead solider.

A couple of wines besides mine that really stood out to me  was the 2009 Alpha Omega II and the 2001 Rosenthal "Meritage"

Balsamic & Oil Tasting at Antica & Dinner at Nayada

Saturday. January 30, 2016

CJ hosted a Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil food pairing and tasting at Antica in Los Alamitos. 18 people in attendance. All food and wine provided.

 We started out with a Goat cheese and peach chutney. Chutney hard excellent flavor. Paired with a NV Segura Vindas Brut Cava.

Next was a salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, onions and feta cheese. I ditched the onions and tomatoes. A Tuscan Herb olive oil with a traditional balsamic vinegar made the dressing. Oil was put on first to coat the greens so the balsamic would adhere to the greens and not end up at the bottom of the bowl.  A 2014 Famille Bourgier Chenin Blanc and a 2014 Trimbach Pinot Blanc were the wines of choice. Both paired well with the salad,

Third dish was Hummus with Crackers. Plain hummus drizzled with a Persian Lime olive oil. Did like the flavor of this oil.  The wines were 2015 Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc and a 2014 Meiomi Pinot Noir. I did not like the pairings. Wines were good on their own but paired with the food did nothing for me.

A turkey sandwich made with turkey breast, Fontina cheese, cucumber, red onions, lettuce, herb de Provence olive oil, herb de Provence spice on a marble rye bread was served. . Ditched the cucumber, way to thick and the red onions . Paired with a 2014 Aliane Cotes de Provence Rose and a 2013 Byron-Nielson Pinot Noir. Decent pairing. The rose was the winner here.

Fifth dish was a Cream Cheese with Fig Balsamic Jam and crackers. Jam was very good. Wines were a 2011 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel and a 2013 Murphy-Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandel. Pairing was ok but nothing exceptional.

Last dish was a Mixed Fruit Bowl, chopped bananas, strawberries, grapes, apples and oranges. Dressed with a Peach Balsamic Vinegar which was very good and blended well with the fruit. A NV Segura Viudas Brut Rose Cava was the final wine and it did pair nicely with the fruit.

A nice tasting and pairing. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Four of us decided to go out to dinner afterwards. I had brought a bottle of wine with me  just in case this would happen.

Went over to Nayada on Carson across from the Long Beach Town Center.  No one was starving but we felt we needed something else to eat. 

Ordered Garlic Chicken Wings, Spring Rolls, Chicken Satay and a order of Beef with Garlic and Pepper. More than enough to eat. Had a 2009 Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir and a 2009 Rusack Anacapa (Bordeaux blend) Both wines were showing quite well. Made it an early night. Big day tomorrow.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Balvenie Scotch Dinner at Chianina

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chianina in the shore hosted a Balvenie Scotch whiskey dinner                People have a hard time understanding our hard spirits can pair with food. It can be done. All the pairings tonight were good except the dessert course. That was a total failure as far as a pairing goes. Don't know what they were thinking. The rep from Balvenie was there from Scotland. Interesting to talk with. I am familiar with this label and have a nice bottle in my stash.

Started off with a cocktail made with Belvenie Monkey Shoulder,  Bourbon, Proseco and Maple Syrup and Lemon Twist.  Light, refreshing and quite good. Appetizer was a Savory Beignet stuffed with Mustard Greens and Kale. Interesting, Good flavor.

First course was a Winter Chicory Salad, Rabbit Confit, Endive, Frise and Mustard Seed Vinaigrette. Light and good flavor.  Perfect match to the cocktail.They also served a Balvenie 12 Yr Doublewood with this course. Aged 12 years in Sherry barrels.

Second course served was a Roasted Guinea Fowl, Butternut Squash Puree, Parsnip Puree. Braised Cabbage and Winter Spice. Meat was cooked perfectly. I have not had Guinea Fowl since I left Arizona in 1975. Used to have a flock of approximately 50 of them. They along with geese make great "watchdogs". Neighbors used to come and walk the property to collect the feathers. They made beautiful lures for fly fishing. This dish was an exceptional treat for me. Paired with a Balvenie 14 Yr Caribbean Cask. Aged 14 years in Rum barrels.

Third course was a Grilled Venison Loin, Brussel Sprouts, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Pureed Dates and Demi Sauce.. Venison was cooked perfectly. I would have liked to have a bit more sauce and preferably a fruit sauce. A Balvenie 17 Yr Doublewood was the choice for this dish. Aged 17 years in Sherry barrels.

Dessert was very good. Scotch was very good. They just did not go well together. Do not know what the chefs was thinking. It was a deconstructed Orange Creamsicle. Orange Meringue, Vanilla Cream and Citrus. Looked beautiful and tasted great. The Scotch was a Balvenie 21 Yr Portwood. Aged 21 years in Port barrels. This scotch would have been better paired with a dark, dense dessert. Not light and airy.

Good Scotch, Good Food and Good Company. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Playground and Melville Wines

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Playground in DTSA  (downtown santa ana) ,, hosted a dinner with Chad Meville of Melville Wines.  Limit of 17 people so with Chad and his 2 guests that left 14 seats open. This dinner sold out in one day. $150 inclusive.

Started out with  plate of appetizers. Onion Soubise Brioche (carmelized onions), Duck Proscuitto with Fig, Fennel & Manchego Cheese,  Potato Stick wrapped in Benton Country Ham,  Ceviche on a mini Tortilla shell and a Savory Cookie made with Apple & Celery. After this plate I knew I was in trouble. Everything on it I devoured. Flavors were so good.  Paired with a 2014 Inox Chardonnay. This is their stainless fermented chard.

Next was a Chino Farms Gargilou. A salad with 38 ingredients. A small piece of leek, a tiny roasted baby turnip, etc., Again I devoured. Dressing was light, flavors exceptional. . Wine served was a 2013 Estate Chardonnay and a 2003 Estate Chardonnay. Interesting to compare the same wine but 10 years between them. The 03 was fuller mouth feel, heavier viscosity, darker color. 13 was fruity and brighter. I preferred the 03.

Third dish of the evening was a Smoked Scallop with Spinach, Satsuma and Sasuhi Rice. This dish apparently will show up on the 28 course  A to Z dinner that is invitation only. This is the "S" dish. Scallop was perfect and lightly smoked.  A 2013 Estate Pinot Noir was the wine selected.

Fourth course was a Duck Breast, Huitlacoche Grits, Pistachios, Freeze Dried Corn, Burnt Strawberries and Strawberry Grastique. Sounds weird but unbelievable flavors. Paired with a 2014 Terraces Pinot Noir and a 2014 Block M Pinot Noir.  These wines were way to young to be opened. I did like the Block M a bit better, But 5 years on them is what is needed.

Up next was  Braised Lamb, Mole, Pureed  Parsnips and blackberries. The Mole was to die for. Never would have thought to pair it with lamb. Lamb was super tender.  Wine served was a 2012 Donna, Syrah. Good pairing..

Dessert was Honeycomb with Hard Cheeses, Quince Paste, Pan Perdu, Dried Apricots and Marcona Almonds topped with a very finely shredded Percoino Cheese. Made a light cloud covering the other ingredients. Unusual and very good. Wine was a 2013 Verna's Viognier.

Then they passed out "gummi's" . The green one was made with Woodruff (moss) and red was Concord Grapes. Fun flavors.

Wines were all good, food was exceptional as always. Sat next to a gentleman that was a dead ringer for Jacques Pepin. But this man had an Irish accent. So another exceptional dinner at the Playground. can't wait for the next one.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Arte Cafe's 20th Anniversary Wine Dinner

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Four of us tonight for this dinner at Arte Cafe in Cerritos.,  Started out with three "amuse bouches".  Some kind of seafood on a toast round, smoked salmon on a blini and "pig in a blanket" The "seafood on toast was good as was the "pig" but the smoked salmon was very fishy. I like strong flavors but this tasted old to me.

3 of us ordered splits of bubbly. Cheap stuff but just as good as the wine served through out dinner. Wines were from White Oak Winery of Alexander Valley. Mediocre at best.

First course was a Pasta Appetizer. Looked like very thin spaghetti with a soft egg in the middle. Had decent flavor and the egg was good. I thought it was a quail egg but the others said no. The waitress had no clue. Wine was a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from the Russian River. Way to grassy and very weak finish. Gave my wine away.

Second course was the best of the night. Sea Scallop, cooked perfectly with spinach and lobster sauce. Sauce was excellent. Paired with a 2014 Chardonnay from the Russian River. Way to oaky and gain I gave my wine away. Good thing I still had the cheap bubbly.

Third course up was a grilled salmon with a crusty top with vegetable ragout. Salmon was cooked correctly and had nice flavor. Decent dish. Wine was a 2013 Pinot Noir from Russian River. Mediocre but I did drink it

Fourth course was a sliced leg of lamb with fresh herb au jus. Lamb had good flavor, could have been more tender but OK. Paired with a 2013 Cabernet from Napa. Another mediocre wine.

Dessert was a creme brulee. Hard to mess that up. 

They offered coffee but had no decaf. Waitress took my clean wine glass and away and then poured the cab into the glass that had a bit of pinot left in it. Service had always been a real weak point at Arte Cafe along with terrible acoustics and loud music. By the end of the evening I was getting really irritable. The noise level was terrible and I was having a hard time hearing what anyone at the table had to say.

There was a "gift bag" set on each table. It did not matter whether you had 2 people of 6 people. Same gift bag. 2 half bottles of wine, two hair clips, 1 tee shirt and 1 wine opener.

The dinner was only $45 plus tax & tip. Price was reasonable so I take that into consideration. did not expect that much from it.


Private Party at Delius

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The dynamic trio rented out Delius restaurant for the evening. Quite a feat on a Saturday night. This was in celebration of their "commitment" to each other. Otherwise a wedding reception with no wedding per say. Approx  100 people. Open bar. Choice of 3 different cocktails, The Hugh, The Mark and The Kurt. 2 wine bars set up and beer available also.

Large table set up in the prixe fixe room and loaded with cheeses etc., and two very large cakes. One pineapple and the other chocolate. Both were exceptionally good. And the waiters passing around at least a dozen different kinds of appetizers.

Hugh did the saber opening of the champagne. Dave made him do it in the parking area just in case. But it went off without a hitch.

This was a very memorable and fun evening. Good food, drinks and great people.