Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fish at The Playground

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dinner tonight at the Playground 2.0 Room,  www.playgrounddtsa.com,  was billed as as all fish.  Since the 2.0 Room only hold 17 people these dinners seem to sell out quickly. 

We started out with a glass of 2015 Arnot Roberts, Rose of Touriga National Rose from Lake County. Very light, very pale color and very light taste. OK wine but.  Our first dish of the evening was a housemade bagel (outstanding) with cream cheese (very light and silky)  fried capers and caviar. Caviar is fish just not hatched yet.  Maybe you could say "unborn fish"

The  Rose wine was replaced with a 2014 Habit, Gruner Veltliner. I have had this label before and was not overly impressed. The Gruner was OK but.  Food served was a Ceviche made with Fluke, Cilantro, 2 kinds of Corn and Popped Corn Kernals (not your regular popcorn), Red Onion - flavor was wonderful and the dish did pair well with the wine.

3rd dish is a "Poke"made with Ocean Trout Belly, Avocado, Soy Sauce, Toasted Corn and Puffed Quiona. Great flavor but I did like the Ceviche better. Of course I am also started to fill up and we have numerous courses to go

A glass of 2015 Schloss-Gobelsburg,  Gruner Veltliner  was poured. Winery in Austria was started in 1171. I was really taken with this wine. Good mouth feel, well balanced. It is also nice that they offer multiple pours. 
 
Next was a "Mexican" Kim-chi with Octopus. Served between two flat tortilla style corn chips. Flavors were good. Messy eating.

This next dish turned out to be one of my favorites. Tacos A La ??? something. Meant to be "governors taco" . Mexican name that I cannot spell. It was a take on a quesadilla. Shrimp, Oaxaca Cheese, similar to string cheese, curds are pulled into a "rope", Bell peppers and  folded into a house made Corn Tortilla. A small salad of Arugula with a Lime, Sour Cream dressing topped it off.

Wine poured next was a 2014 Anthill Farms, Peugh Vineyard, Chardonnay. Decent, not overly oaky but went very well with the foods being served.

A plate of very thin roasted Asparagus with thinly sliced Oranges and  toasted Almonds on a bed of Romesco Sauce. Had a small bite to the sauce. I will say I did like the asparagus dish we had at the Sunday Supper a few weeks back much better. This was good but.

Seventh course turned out to be Top Loin of Ocean Trout that had been lightly smokes, Sugar Snap Peas, Maple Syrup over a Horseradish Cream, Fish was excellent but I could not wrap myself around  snap peas  and horseradish

A glass of 2014 Anthill Farms. Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir was served.  Good wine. Went well with the next dishes.

A  bowl of Blue Hominy Pozole with Bacon (only protein that was not fish), Clams, freeze dried corn kernals,  paper thin sliced Radishes. Full of flavor but I am so full by now that I am groaning.

My second favorite dish was the  assorted Wild Mushrooms carmelized, with Shallots. crispy Garlic, Crimini Onions. The mushrooms were all the really wild ones. Enoki, Trumpet etc., So much flavor. I finished this dish up quickly

10th course is a Black Cod, Shisito peppers, Tomatoes, sauteed Corn. Cod was perfect. Light and buttery.

Wine being poured was a 2012 Kevin Olson,  Monterey,   Pinot Noir. New label for me. Good wine.

A palate cleanser of Mixed  Macerated Berries, Whipped Cream and Yuzu Tart was brought out.  Then onto to dessert. An Apricot Cake with Apricot Jam, crushed Pistachios and a Sorbet made from Jack Fruit. This was very different, very good and a really nice ending to a meal.

A beer was served that I had one sip and passed. Wheat Grass. Coriander, Sea Salt, local pulots. Did absolutely nothing for me.

So another very good dinner in the 2.0 Room.  Looking forward to the next.
  
 
 
 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Vintage 2009 Pinot Noir Tasting

Saturday, June 18, 2016

14 of us Pinotphiles gathered tonight for a blind tasting of 2009 Pinot Noirs from any place in the world. This was a real mixed bag of wines    A lot of nibblies to keep us going.  There was one bad wine in the group but a duplicate was brought. One bad , one good. The luck of the draw . It was the 2009 Huber Estate.  I had bought a case of this wine and they were all good. 

 Tasting notes were kept and at the end we compared our notes top the revealed wines. I brought two wines. The 2009 Sequana Russian River was a disappointment. I expected more. Have two more bottles so maybe I will not open them for a few years and hope they improve. My other wine was a 2009 Lucia, Santa Lucia Highlands. One of the better wines tasted tonight. Unfortunately it was my only bottle.

Everyone had a different opinion on most of the wine.

Williams Selyem, Russian River Valley
Sea Smoke, Ten, Sta Rita Hills
Williams Selyem, Ferrington Vineyards, Anderson Valley
Sea Smoke, One Barrel, Sta Rita Hills
Sea Smoke, Southing, Sta Rita Hills
Miner, Gary's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands
Louis Jadot, Beaune, 1er Cru, France
Bouchard Aine & Fils, Burgundy, France
Copain, "Kiser En Haute", Anderson Valley
Thomas George Estates, Lancel Creek Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Vincent Girardin, 1er Cru, La Fussierre Maranges, Burgundy, France
Roessler, Ceremonial, Russian River Valley
Sea Smoke, Botella, Sta Rita Hills
Siduri, Hirsch Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Clos Pepe Estate, Sta Rita Hills
Lucia, Santa Lucia Highlands
Rozak, Santa Maria, Valley
Martinelli, Lolita Ranch
Husch, Anderson Valley
Huber Estate, Sta Rita Hills
Cardwell Hill, Pommard Block, Williamette, 
Sequana, Russian River Valley
Fourth Estate, Bacigalupi Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Huber Estate, Sta Rita Hills

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Margie's Monthly Wine Dinner at Russo's in Naples

Saturday, June 11, 2016

14 of us tonight gathered at Russo's in Naples for dinner, www.russosofnaples.com. This is my 4th dinner this week. So Far score is 1 to 2. Have high hopes for this one. Food has always been good. But then that is what I thought of the last two dinners.

This is not a prix fixe dinner tonight. Everyone is on their own. So a very mixed list of food was ordered.  I opted for the appetizer sampler which had Coconut Shrimp, (good but Latravita 's coconut shrimp are far superior. The best I have had)  Grilled Artichoke and Crostini with Shrimp and Avocado. Everything was great. Good flavors.  I should have stopped with this plate but I had ordered the half portion of Risotto with Seafood.  I did have a few bites but this will be lunch tomorrow. Had to save room for dessert.  Called Turtle Gelato. It was a ball of chocolate gelato rolled in chocolate and crushed pecans. Presentation was beautiful.  Nice ending to a good meal.

A real mixed bag of wines tonight. I brought a 2010  Clos Pepe Pinot Noir which was drinking really nice.  Pinot goes with everything. I tried some of the other wines but a few of the bottles did not get passed around very quickly. 

2010 August Ridge, Jovial Red - did not taste.

2015 Tablas Creek,  Vermentino.  I liked this wine. clean and crisp.

Zonin Proseco - always a good choice

2015 August Ridge, Pinot Grigio - did not taste - I am not a fan of Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris

2014 Pelletiere, Willow Creek District, Nebbillo Riserva - did not even see this bottle

2004  Netarpanaro, Rosso - very good wine, well balanced

2008 Le Sparviere Franciacorta - a sparkling that was good

2011 Antinori, Chianti Classico - typical Antinori - always pleasant

2009 Stolpman Angeli Sangio - showing really well

2014 Coppola, Diamond, Chardonnay - did not taste

2013 Anthill, Tina Marie Vineyard, Pinot Noir - harsh, not balanced - did not like at all

2012 Frank Valley Vineyard, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon - did not see this bottle 

2010 Wiens,  Temecula, Chateau Rouge Cabernet Sauvignon - Saw the bottle but did not taste - the wine should have been good - Weins is one of the few wineries in Temecula that makes decent wine.

2012 Mauro Vannucci, Piaggia, Il Sasso, Carmignano - Very good wine

2006 Benedetti, Croce Del Cal, Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Classico - did not taste

Tobin James Liquid Love - did not taste


Friday, June 10, 2016

Utopia an Raymond Wines

Thursday. June 9, 2016

Arrived about 5:30 for a 7:00 dinner so I headed over to District Wine for a glass of bubbly. First time there. Nice place and I can see why people like it. Set up with lots of seating areas. More like a lounge. But it still is in an area with no parking. My biggest complaint about Long Beach. They are taking car parking away to accommodate bicycles and also to accommodate business who want to have sidewalk seating. Great for locals but not for me. There is always parking in the hotel lots for about $5 but I have this quirk. Why should I pay for parking when I am patronizing wine and food establishments. I am spending money to do this and have to shell out extra to park. Not my favorite thing.

Dinner tonight at Utopia, www.utopiarestaurant.net, with Raymond wines. $55 prepaid so I know what to expect but tonight was not my night.  Two dinners this week that fell short of what they should be. 

Started out with a glass of 2013 Raymond, Napa Valley, Chardonnay. Wine was oxidized. Replacement was better but still too much oak for my liking. Paired with a Ceviche Mariscos, salmon, shrimp, calamari in a spicy tomato sauce served on a bed of red cabbage leaves. Ceviche was way too thin. too much liquid and a very small amount of seafood. Favor was good.

Second course was a Wild Mushroom Ravioli in a sun dried cream sauce. This was a good dish Wine was a 2011 Raymond Sauvignon Blanc. I would have preferred the chardonnay with this dish. The Sau Blanc was good but I think would have paired better with the ceviche.

Main course served was a Grilled Wild Salmon with risotto and dill cream sauce. Salmon was a tad dry but everything else on the plate was good. Unfortunately the wine they picked to go with this dish did not. A 2011 Raymond Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. What were they thinking ? Total disaster. Wine was way too big. It also was too warm. Cab and salmon is not a good pairing.

Dessert was a housemade Tiramisu with Blandy's 5 year old Maderia.  This was good. Both the wine and food.

For some reason out table seemed to get neglected throughout the evening. We had to ask for bread 3 times before it came out. It also was too crusty. Like it had been heated up a few times.  Also too many heels of the rolls . Three rolls and only 2 small middle pieces. We were the last ones to get food and wine. It we had been in a corner I might have understood it but we were in the middle of the dining room. No excuse. The waiters seemed to look right past us like the table did not exist. 

Have another dinner saturday night at Russo's in Naples. Hope this trend of mediocracy does not continue.



 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Timeless Pints Beer Dinner

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Delius Restaurant, www.deliusrestaurant.com  and Timeless Pints Brewing Company, www.timelesspints.com ,  paired to do a craft beer dinner tonight at the brewery.  I had done one last year with them and was looking forward to the evening.

Unfortunately this dinner just did not have it. Flavors were good but presentation lacked. Most of the "hot" dishes were luke warm. Just did not make the grade that I expect from Delius. Do not know of the circumstances behind the scenes but Delius does a lot of catering so this should not have been an issue. I also felt the portions were small and no bread on the side was served like last year.

First course was a Fennel Roasted Peach and Endive salad , Queso fresco and Ginger Vinaigrette.  Good flavors and because it was a salad the temperature was OK.  Beer was a Good Natured Belgian (Whitbier). A nice pairing. Beer was light.

Next was a Seasame Seared Ahi, Tomato Jam, Blistered Fresno Chilis, Green Onion and Daikon Slaw . I did not even cut into the chili. There was enough heat as it was. Ahi was good, tomato jam paired very well with the ahi. Beer was very good. Timeless Tale (pale ale)

Third course served was a Grilled Spanish Blood Sausage. Rutabaga, Aged Goat Cheese, Fingerling Potato Hash and Hibiscus Gastric.  The sausage had good flavor. The Hibiscus gastric was wonderful. This dish was room temperature. The beer was a Taste of Fate (Red IPA). I am not  usually a fan of IPA's but this one I really liked.

Coffee Braised Pork Belly, Organic Cinnamon  Spiced Baked Beans and Roasted Summer Squash was the main course.  Again room temperature which is not great with pork belly. The fat was white not opaque. Beans had good flavor but not warm. Squash was over cooked. Beer was the best of the night. A Porter called Peanut Butter Cup. Good coffee, chocolate taste. I am a porter and stout fan.

Dessert was a Brown Butter Cake. Butterscotch Center, Banana Cream and Scotch Strong Ale Syrup.  Wish there was a bit more syrup. Cake had good flavor but a bit dry for me. Cream was excellent. Served with Scotch Strong Ale.  The beer had a bite to it. Not what I would order.

Not the best dinner I have had. It was OK but too many flaws throughout the night.  Do not know what the problems were but Delius is capable of so much more.

And on top of a disappointing dinner I fell in the parking lot. Tripped over a parking bumper that I did not see and landed on my knees. At least I did not break anything.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sunday Supper at the Playground

Sunday, June 5, 2016

This was a first for me. Have done the special dinners in the 2.0 Room at the Playground in Santa Ana, www.playgrounddtsa.com, The Sunday Supper is by reservations only, which the majority of their dinners are, You have no choice of foods. They even state on the website if you have allergies or are a picky eater this might not be the restaurant for you.  They serve 10 courses along with 2 desserts. I  did find out that at all the Sunday Suppers 3 of the dishes are always served. The humongous pork chop, the fried chicken and the cornbread. The rest is always what they feel like cooking that day.

We started out with their Cornbread with a Chiplote Honey Butter. Excellent flavor. Everyone raved about it. 

Next was a dish that had Heirloom Carrots, Beets, Farro, Feta Cheese and spiced with Harissa, followed by a dish they called Eggs Benedict. Small slices of English Muffins with Carmelized Mushrooms, topped with Poached Quail Eggs. Needless to say both dishes had rave reviews.

We were then brought a small cast iron skillets with a Spinach, Fortina Cheese, Artichoke Dip along with Chips for dipping.  I am not sure how many of these small cast iron skillets the restaurant has but it has to be a lot. They seem to use them numerous times during dinners.

Some of the best Brussell Sprouts I have had showed up. They were carmelized, had very thinly sliced Heirloom Radishes and something else that I did not get written down. The dishes come out fast and I had to have the waitstaff repeat the descriptions to me several times..

The next dish I did not taste. It had raw edaname beans on it and I am allergic to them. It also had octopus and shishito peppers. Looked good.

A plate of  asparagus was next. It had Lemon flavors to it and set on a bed of Honey Yogurt. Excellent flavors. I could eat the whole plate of food  myself. 

A plate of their "famous" Fried Chicken was set down. Juicy, good light crust but it had a flavor I just wasn't in to. Tasted like a vinegar brine perhaps. I could eat one small piece but that was it.

A piece of Wagu Beef showed up. It was like a shortrib cut. Tender and good flavor. Set on a bed a greens

The best of the day was the next offering. A huge 4 rib cut Pork Chop. Best pork I have had in a long time. Full of flavor, juicy, moist and Marc had quite the time slicing it up for us. I just wish I could cook pork this good..

A palate cleanser of Yazu  sorbet like ?  tasted like a cross bewteen Meyer Lemon and Key Lime. Then the real dessert. Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding with Whipped Cream. We were all very happy.

The food does come from the kitchen fast. We had to move our bottles of wine, 11 bottles brought by 7 people, to the table next to us to make room for the dishes. Dinner is served family style and they do have it set up so you take the leftovers home. We all enjoyed this concept so much we decided we would do it again in a few months. For $50 a person plus tax and tip it is a bargain. No corkage but it is expected that you offer the waitstaff sample of your wines. We had the wines set up on the table and the 6 of the staff came up and tried all  the wines.  We were generous with them and I am sure they will remember us next time.

Our wines were a real mixed lot. Dr. Bob grabbed the wrong bottle out of the frige so we had an Au Bon Climat Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc instead of the high end French wine he wanted. We still drank the wine. Snobs we are not.

I brought a 2011 Clos Pepe HTC Chardonnay and a 2008 Saxum James Berry GSM.  I was happy with both of them.

Other wines were 2006 Chloe Jeremy, Napa Cabernet,  2014 Aequorea, Arron Jackson, Viognier, 2012 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, 2006 Bollinger ,Les Grande Amee, Champagne, 2009 Kosta Browne, Keefer, Pinot Noir and A 2012 Aubert, Sonoma, Pinot Noir. a Dr. Hanison Riesling and another wine that did not make it to the list. This was a wild time

Looking forward to returning to the Playground in a few weeks to do the All Fish Dinner in the 2.0 Room. Fresh fish bought in the  morning at the downtown LA  fish market and a menu  thought of driving back to the restaurant.



Monday, May 30, 2016

May Meeting of The Winos

Sunday, May 30, 2016

This months theme was Wines From Williamette Valley, Oregon. A small gathering as it was a holiday weekend. When it is like this I always feel the "important ones" showed up.  The day was very pleasant and the patio and yard were very welcoming. Lots of Monarch butterflies starting to hatch.  

The host made a very good dish of pulled pork and lots of other goodies to go around.

An unusal wine showed up. It was a can of Underwood Pinot Noir. Grapes grown in Oregon and canned in Modesto, CA.  Cloying sweet. I thought of putting it over ice with a shot of vodka.

I thought the 1998 Argyle, Nuthouse, Pinot Noir was the best of the day. I did not taste all of them. I was having an off day and just not into drinking and eating that much. Some were good and some not so good. Also could have been just me.

The other wines brought as as follows. 

2011 Argyle Vintage Brut - good
2013 Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay - decent
2014 Maypara Pinot Gris - ok for a Pinot Gris. Not my favorite white grape.
2013 Williamette Rose, Ok - very light
1998 Argyle, Nuthouse, Pinot Noir - my favorite
2008 Cardweil House Reserve, Pinot Noir -  good
2008 Dusky Goose, Dundee Hill, Pinot Noir - ok, seemd to lack something
2009 Dusky Goose, Ranbaullet, Nice,. a bit more fruit than the 2008
2919 Patrica Green Cellars, Four Winds, Yamhill Couty - good
2012 White Rose Estate Pinot Noir - did not like at all
2013 A to Z, Pinot Noir - ok
2013 Duskt Goose - this might have been a white white. - it is not noted
2014 Argyle, Pinot Noir - did not taste