Sunday, December 14, 2014

Greenfields

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Nine of us gathered tonight for Margie's "Fun Wine Activity" event for December at Greenfields Brazilian Steakhouse in Long Beach.  It has been several years since I was here and they seemed to have "cleaned" the place up.

After a trip to the extensive salad bar we started getting bombarded with the meats. All meat is brought to the table and carved table side. Several of the meats I did not try. It was way too much food for me. Big eaters are in heaven at this place.

Of the meats that I did try I preferred the rib eye, top sirloin and the skirt steak (which had the most flavor). The bacon wrapped turkey was flavorful and moist and the quail was good. I passed on the sausages, lamb and chicken.

I am still recovering from the creeping crud so I am not 100 %.  The meats were good but for the price I would prefer 555 East. I go for quality over quantity. But it was a a fun evening out and the big eaters in the crowd were happy

Wines brought tonight were 2003 Stolpman Angeli, took several hours for this wine to open. I should have decanted it. Bottle was almost empty before it started showing well.

2007 Dunham Cellars Syrah
2011 Tablas Creek Viognier
2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Saxon Brown, Duvell Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, Chardonnay
NV   Pommery Champagne, Reims, France
2011 Wiens-Chateau Grande Rouge, Temecula Valley
2010 Stolpman La Croce, Sangiovese/Syrah
2011 Stolpman Petite Syrah
2005 Domaine du Grand Ormeau, Pomerol

Cellar Room at Delius

Thursday, December 11, 2014
Once a year I have the opportunity to dine in the Cellar Room at Delius Restaurant, www.deliusrestaurant.com, for dinner at half price. This is a 10 course dinner that runs $95. I always ask 5 other people to join me, and try to do it around the holidays because of the festive mood.

We started off the a Charcuterie plate that and numerous cheeses, salamis, sausage,  olives,  hummus and olive tapenade. Along with  toasts. A nice start to the meal. All the ingredients were explained by the waiter but who can remember them all. We selected a 2012 Phillipe Rainbault Sancerre. Wine opened up nicely after it warmed up a little bit. Way to cold when first served. We originally ordered a Muscadat but it was not available,

Next was a seared Diver Scallop sitting in a pool of corn pudding. Sweet dish Scallop cooked perfectly.

Third was a salad with roasted beets, watercress, burrata and heirloom tomatoes. Good flavor but I personally can do without watercress - to bitter for me.

After quite a bit of "hassle" we ended up with a 2012 Sharecropper. Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir. recommended by Matt. Frankly it turned out to be the best wine of the evening. Took awhile to open up but it was quite nice. Only 2 Oregon Pinots on the wine list and they were out of both of them. Paul and Margie are big into Oregon Pinot Noir and they were a bit disappointed in the selection.

A farro, mushroom risotto with zucchini and duck confit was served. This was a very good dish but I have had this dish several times recently.

Biggest "bomb" of the evening was next. Calamari in Arribatta sauce. Way too spicy. 3 of is have acid reflux so it just did not sit well. Also it really did not flow with the rest of the meal. Too spicy for the wine and I feel it really screwed up a good meal. It had no place on this menu.

Terry ordered a bottle of 2011 Boucard, Pere and Fils, Gervey Chambertin. I was slightly disappointed in this wine. Most expensive of the evening but it was way to young.

Next dish was a red wine braised beef cheek with Salsify puree and quince . Tender and good flavor. The quince added the right touch.

A palate cleanser of Orange sorbet was served. The oranges are sourced from a tree at the back door of the restaurant. This was excellent. Had a very clean taste.

Main course was Hanger Steak with Gnocchi and broccolini. Good flavor, tender.

A cheese plate was served, again with various cheeses, dried fruits, nuts and grapes.

Dessert was Russian Cream with double ginger cookies. Their Russian cream is similar to Panacotta but much richer. They do not serve this as often as they used to. Which is too bad, Its rich, but light and I would rather have a small dish of this instead of a heavy dessert at the end of a heavy meal.

 I always let my "guests" choose the wine. I stay out of it but next year I may just go in several days early, pick out 3 to 4 bottles and make sure the restaurant has them in stock. That way everything is ready and we are not hassling back and forth over the wine list. Delius had gone to a "pad" instead of a book. It might be easier for them but I find it a real big pain. You can't remember where you were, what you saw or where the hell you saw it. Guess next best thing is to write things down as you see them so you don't forget. It also does not help when the restaurant is out of the wine you selected. Why can't they put a notation on the pad that the item is temporarily unavailable. Sure would save a lot of running back and forth and lot of frustration.

I have been sick most of this week so maybe some of my tastebuds are screwed and I am not in the best of moods. But I was disappointed in the wine and several of the food dishes. Nothing was on the level it should be. I also had a big problem with the table and chairs Way to big for the space . Chairs are huge with high backs. Hard to move, uncomfortable to sit in unless you are tall. So being uncomfortable all evening did not help my mood. I still have a screwed back several days later.

But we did have a good time And a pleasant evening out for the holidays. Maybe next year I will have the dinner a little earlier when the restaurant is not in such a flux of holiuday activity.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seafood Cove

Saturday. November 29, 2014

Henry decided he had some free time so an invite to dinner was issued . Apparently the Seafood Palace had a big event tonight so there were no larger tables available so Henry opted for the Seafood Cove. Had never been there before.  When I arrived at 6:00 the place was packed. . It is a Vietnamese restaurant with Chinese influence. Had to wait for our table to become available

We all brought red wines, mine by mistake - pulled the wrong bottle - looked at the year and spaced out everything else. I am so exhausted from decorating for Christmas. Don't think all the decorating will get done this weekend. But the tree is up and that is the biggest item to get out of the way. Took two days.

I wanted to bring a 2009 Clos Pepe Sparkling Rose. Pulled a 2009 Clos Pepe out - did not pay any attention to the bottle just the 2009. Turned out to be a VS Pinot. Now how can anyone mistake the cork situation. You can' t if you are paying attention and clearly I was not.

So since we had 4 big red wines we had meat dishes - no seafood tonight. Henry says we will come back and have the lobster. They have tanks in the restaurant with fresh seafood.They fill a bucket and bring it to the table so you can pick out your own,

We started out with a Pork Ribs, Peking Style. This is definitely a finger food. Excellent flavor. Then off to Beef, French Style, very tender small pieces of beef with fresh tomatoes, leafy something and loads of onions which Terry and CJ liked. I passed. 

A plate of Kung Pao Chicken was next. Very good flavors and not overly spicy. Last dish was a Beef with Chinese broccoli and fat noodles. Again excellent flavors.

The size of the dishes were larger than the Seafood Palace so that is why we only had 4 dishes and took leftovers home. These dishes would serve 6 to 8  people easily.

For dessert we were served a Seaweed with Tapioca and Green Bean soup along with Fortune Cookies.

Nice restaurant but does not have the ambiance of the Seafood Palace. Very busy and noisy. Rapid turnover of the tables. Place was packed from 6 to 9 but after that it cleared out considerably. Seems to be a very popular spot with the locals.A lot of older white men, probably served in the war and got a taste for the food.

Along with my 2009 Clos Pepe VS Pinot Noir, there was a 2006 Melville, Carries Vineyard, Pinot Noir, a 2011 Dearly Lane, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2000 McKeon-Phillips Ardison, A.D., Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Big Reds and Delius

Friday, November 21, 2014

The dinner tonight was Delius' first one to pair two wines with each course." www.deliusrestaurant.com". It turned out to  be a big hit with the sold out room . Five of us were seated with the rep, Mike Levine from Southern Wines and Spirits.  Had not seen Mike in close to a year.

Started out with a glass of Ferrari Blanc de Blanc, Brut NV, Trentino. Nice clean, crisp, slightly yeasty.  Paired with raw Oysters, Cucumber Mignonette (which was outstanding) and Micro Mint.  Good pairing and everyone was happy.

Second course was Grilled Octopus, Gnocchi, Spanish Chorizo, Roasted Tomatoes and Castelvetrano Olives. Flavors were excellent. . The Octopus was exceedingly tender. BUT - I only had one piece of Octopus and a lot of Gnocchi. Whomever was in the kitchen plating did not pay attention. Tim also only had one piece. Dave brought us a plate from the kitchen with more after I pointed it out to him.   The two wines paired with this dish were a 2010 Pio Cesare, Langhe, Nebbiolo and a 2010 Silvio Grasso, Piemonte, Barolo. Both wines were very good but I did prefer the Barolo.

Third course put before us is a Stuffed Leg of Lamb, Roasted Seasonal Vegetables. (carrots, baby eggplant). Lamb was stuffed with a dressing and chicken liver. Flavor was good but I think the lamb was just too thick and it wasn't quite as tender as it should have been and for me too well done.  After the loin at Charlie Palmers Wednesday night, this was a disappointment. The two wines were a 2009 Phillip, Tuscany, Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2012 Pine Ridge, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon. Again both were good my my vote goes to the Phiillip. One year older may have been a deciding factor.

Fourth course was a Braised Short Rib with Red Wine Farro Risotto. Meat was full of flavor and very tender.  No knife needed here. Cooked perfectly.  A 2010 Alpha Omega, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2010 Inglenook Cask, Napa, Sauvignon Cabernet were poured. It was hard to decide which one was best. But in the end the Inglenook won out. It took awhile to open up but when it did it was soooooo good.

Dessert was a Vanilla Panna Cotta, Spiced Apple Compote. Light and refreshing and a  nice ending to the meal. They did have some kind of chunky strips of something on the top. Looked like wonton but it did not have much flavor and frankly could have been left off the dish easily. A tuile would have been better.

Another good dinner at Delius - a couple of disappointments. Good company at the table and a very enjoyable evening

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kosta Browne at Charlie Palmers

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I had been looking forward to this dinner for awhile and it did not disappoint . Got to South Coast Plaza with plenty of time to spare.  Never know about work traffic and what it will bring. Charlie Palmers is located at Bloomingdales at the center. www.charliepalmer.com.  Since some of us were early we sat in the lounge with a glass of bubbly until we were summoned into the dining area for the reception.

The restaurant was pouring J sparkling and were generous with the wine. Took about 20 minutes for the seating for dinner to begin. We had 9 people at our table and plenty of room for us all. Chairs at this table. No banquette. Makes for more comfortable seating.

Started out with a Hamachi Crudo, Green Apple, Seaweed, Compressed Cucumber, Pink Sea Salt and Tangerine Yuze Vinaigrette. Very good dish and the dressing was exceptional.  Paired with a 2012 Kosta Browne, One Sixteen, Russian River, Chardonnay. Nice wine and paired well with the salad. Slight oak but for me very drinkable.

Second course was a Beeler's Farm Crispy Pork Belly, Root Beer Glaze, Brown Butter Butternut Squash Puree, Shaved Radish- Petite Salad. (very petite). Pork was very flavorful. I would have preferred a touch more fat on it but it was good. Puree had nice flavor. A well composed dish. Wine was a 2012 Kosta Browne, Russian River, Pinot Noir. Another good pairing.

Third course was up - Creamy Farro Risotto, Duck Confit, Mixed Berries, Parmesan Cheese, Poultry Jus. Farro is a grain and the consistency showed that. Good flavor and the wine paired well. It was a 2010 Kosta Browne, Gary's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands, Pinot Noir. Good wine but somehow I was not overly impressed. Gary's is one of my favorite vineyards but something wasn't clicking.

Main course was served - Coirander Dusted Colorado Lamb Loin, Portobello Mushroom, Pomegranate Truffle Sauce. Paired with a 2009 Kosta Browne, Kanzler Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir. This to me was a far better wine than the Gary's. Granted it was a year older but showed much better. Very well balanced, good fruit and complexity. I did not eat any of this dish as I was getting stuffed and we did have dessert to go. Had them box in up and ate it Thursday night. The flavor was really on. Very good cut of lamb, excellent dish. Sauce was outstanding.

Dessert was a Pumpkin Cheesecake, Gingerbead, Pecan, Creme Fraiche Sorbet. A really nice touch at the end of the meal. ate every morsel.

Excellent dinner and wines. Michael Browne, one of the winemakers was in attendance. He made the rounds and went to every table and talked with everyone. Very personable. He seemed to be really enjoying himself this evening. A really huge difference in his attitude over Bob Cabral from Williams Seylem who talked to everyone through a microphone and did not leave his table area.

Interesting to note the difference in quality of food and wine compared to the amount charged. This dinner was twice the price of my dinner Monday night. But the quality of the food and the wines was so much better along with the level of service. The old saying "you get what you pay for" really rings true.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lane Tanner's Lumen Wines at Restaurant Christine

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winemaker dinner at Restaurant Christine in Torrance, www.restaurantchristine.com,  Close to work so its and easy drive. Lane Tanner who retired for a few years is now back with a new label "Lumen". I enjoyed her wines years ago and was anxious to see what her new endeavor would bring. Lumen sources their grapes from the Sierra Madre Vineyards.

This dinner was put on by Wine Getaways.  I saw Bart at the Terecero dinner here earlier in this year but had not seen Peter for several years. Most of their dinners are on the westside of LA and the drive is really too much in work traffic.

We started out with a reception in the patio area. The 2012 Lumen Stary Rose was poured liberally. A blend of Pinot and Grenache. I thought this was the one of the best wines of the night. Grilled Anjou Pear & Triple Creme Brie Crostini, Wild Mushroom Tartlet with Aged Gouda and Pancetta and a Pork and Shrimp Shu Mai Dumpling with Asian Glaze were the passed appetizers All were very good.

After about 45 minutes were seated for dinner. The restaurant was sold out for this dinner and seating was tight.

A Charred Shrimp Salad with Soft Organic Greens, Dried Pineapple, and Mango Vinaigrette with a Warm Avocado Toast  was served.  Way too much Radicchio for me. The vinaigrette was extremely good and the dried pineapple added a nice sweet touch to the salad. Shrimp had good flavor but were slightly overdone. The avocado mash was dark but flavorful. The wine paired was a 20121 Lumen Chardonnay. Slightly oaked. I did not feel it really went with the salad. I was not impressed with this wine. I felt it did not have a good mouth feel and tasted "weak". Did not finish my glass.

Main course was a Slow Braised Pork Cheek, Butternut Squash Risotto, Sage Brown Butter and Broccolini. The pork was tender and the sauce was very good. But it did almost taste like beef. Several people at the table made the same remark. Probably because of the sauce. Risotto was good. Paired with a 2013 Lumen Pinot Noir. Nice front palate but no back finish. Way too young to being poured now.

They did pour everyone a small taste of their Reserve Pinot Noir which is not available now. It was a better wine but compared to other Pinots that I like, I am not to apt to consider this wine.

Dessert was a Savory Goat Cheese Tart, Spiced Nuts, Dark Berry Compote and Cocoa Nib Bark. The filling was very good. The crust was tasty but difficult to cut with a fork. (the knives had been taken away).  They poured a 2013 Lumen Grenache which had 10% Beckman grapes in it. This and the Rose were the two picks for me as far as wine.

A little disappointed in the wines. Could be that they are just way to young to be opened yet. Another thing that slightly irritated me was that they did not change the silverware with each course. This is not Denny's .  Service was good and efficient. Dinner was over about 9:30. I left before the real end as I had a drive to get home. But it was priced well. $89 inclusive.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sequoia Grove - Trujillo Wine Dinner at Delius

Thursday, November 13, 2014.

This was a last minute dinner that Delius decided to put on.   "www.deliusrestaurant.com", I had never heard of this winery before so I checked them on line. Medium priced wines. Been around for a long time. Mike Trujillo the owner and winemaker was in attendance. This dinner was sold out.

Started out with a Goat Cheese and Leek Tart, Boston Lettuce Salad with Pancetta Lardons and Herb Vinaigrette. Tart was excellent,. Very rich. Paired with a Sequoia Grove Sauvignon Blanc. Nice clean, well balanced wine.

Second course was a Pan Seared Scallop. Apple and Salsify Puree and Micro Arugula.. Scallop was cooked correctly and the puree was good. Wine was a Sequoia Grove Chardonnay. No oak on the nose but I did pick up some on the taste. It did well with the food but I would not drink a glass of this on its own. I was really not overly impressed.

Third course was served. A Duck Confit and Red Wine Mushroom Risotto. Duck was good. But I think the Risotto was a little thick. Flavor was there. Paired with a Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon. Nice pairing but again not overly impressed with the wine. It lacked something.

Fourth course was presented. A Rib Eye Steak, Cipollini Onion, Roasted Marble Potatoes and Sauteed Kale. My steak was cooked perfectly. Had nice fat on it. By this time I was stuffed so I had them box it up and I ate it for breakfast on Friday. This dish was good, but I felt it was a come down from what I have had a Delius' wine dinners before. I am also getting quite tired of Kale. It seems to be on every restaurants menus now. It is being over done. Wine poured was a Trujillo Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was better than the last cab but not overly great. Nice wine but.

Dessert was a Pecan Pie (which was more like a cookie) and Brown Sugar Pear Ice Cream. Ice Cream was great. The pecan whatever was good but I had Fred wrap what was left and will take it home.

So dinner was good but not great. Maybe I am spoiled by Delius's other dinners. I think this dinner fell a little short by their standards. I did notice the chefs did not spend a long time afterwards and they did not ask what dishes people really liked. Almost like they knew the shortcomings. The wines were alright but nothing I would buy or order in a restaurant.