Sunday, July 29, 2007

Update on Century Club

I have received my certificate from "The Wine Century Club". It was mailed from England, gold seal and all.

There as a letter enclosed with the certificate and I will quote a potion of it.

"Congratulations on becoming a member of the Wine Century Club. As of today we have 255 members from all over the world" (its hard to believe that little ol me is part of a very elite group of winos).

"Most remarkable is the rarity of your proficient imbibing: just 3.3% of those that downloaded the application have become members" (at least I'm recognized as a proficient imbibler)

So I encourage all of you who read this to go to and download the list and start the hunt. Two years ago when I started, I had 63 varietals listed and when I sent in the list last month, I had 111 varietals tasted and I added the 112th a few days later. I have tasted hundreds and hundreds of wines in the past 2 years and made it a mission to get this accomplished. I have gone out of my way seeking odd varietals and asking loads of questions of the wine reps at the tastings and dinners I have attended. Some of them have given me great leads but it does take time and perseverance.

If you cheat on the application just so you can have bragging rights you really are cheating no one but you. And you will be the loser in the long run. Unfortunately I do know a couple of people that would do this. How sad someone has to cheat to build up their ego.

Dinner At Pasta Al Dente

Saturday, July 28, 2007

July's gathering of the "Wine & Dine" group was at Pasta al Dente in Naples (Long Beach). There was 21 in attendance for tonight's dinner. We sat outside since it was a very nice balmy evening. A touch of humidity, which in Southern California creates moans & groans from the natives. We get very few humid days so we are very spoiled when it comes to weather.

There were approximately 22 bottles of wine on the table. I can remember a few but did not keep track. I don't consider these dinners wine tastings, but sharing wine with everyone. I did bring two bottles. A 2006 Palmini, Honea Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, Tocai Friulano. A dry slightly fruity white white. It had nice acidity and was nicely balanced. It went very well with some of the food that was served. Several people wrote the name of the grape down (Tocai Friulano) to add to their quest for the Wine Century Club certificate., I also brought a 2002 Clos Pepe, Sta. Rita Hills, Pinot Noir. . This wine was showing very well and at least six people commented that they thought it was the best wine there. It was elegant, very well balanced, good acidity and a beautiful finish. I was very pleased with the wine. It paired very well with the mushroom dishes.

The dishes that were served this evening are as follows:


Foccaia bread with balsamic vinegar & oilve oil

Fungi di Oggi - sauteed mushrooms flambeed in brandy, Marsala wine and loads of garlic (somehow I did not get the "loads of garlic", maybe because I use a tremendous amount of garlic when I cook and it wasn't enough for me).

Fungi Imbottiti - baked stuffed mushrooms with pieces of chicken breast, green onions, cream cheese, herbs, finished with a Romano cheese bread crumb gratinate. I really liked this dish. I could have made an entire meal out of it.

Pizza: Shrimp Pesto - Bay shrimp, red onions, mozzarella, parmigiana, romano and regular pesto sauce. This was definitely a winner. Very tasty and very filling.

Salad: Riso Con Pesto - Risotto, chicken pesto, tomatoes, basil, onions and pine nuts on a bed of baby greens. This was tasty and several people raved about it, but at that point I was starting to get very full and probably did not enjoy it as much as I should have.

Pasta: Ravioli di Asparagi - ravioli filled with fresh asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, tri-colored roasted bell peppers and aglio olio. The flavors were very good. I did like this dish (which I took home)


Petto di Pollo con Noce di Coco - coconut chicken breast topped with cranberry mango chutney and roasted rosemary potatoes. This was similar to coconut shrimp. The flavor was wonderful. I did have a couple of bites of the chicken but I never saw the potatoes. I really liked this dish.

Vitello Picatta - breaded veal medallions topped with a lemon caper sauce served with rice and vegetables. This was good but I have had better veal picatta. I prefer my breading to be on the very light side and this tasted heavy to me. The sauce had great flavor.

I was stuffed to the gills, but we had ice cream on the way for dessert, so I put the balance of my coconut chicken, veal piccata and the ravilois in a take out container ( I will have the leftovers for lunch on Sunday)

It was a great dinner, with good wines and friendly people and this is what food and wine is all about. Having fun and enjoying life.

Next month we are off the Ante's in San Pedro. A Croatian restaurant which I have dined at before and liked it enough to go back several times.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monthy Meeting of Winos

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The monthly gathering of the "winos" today. Today's theme was Petite Syrah and Chardonnay. I think for the first time we had more white wines than red. 9 whites and 7 reds. A couple of the wines that I particularly liked were the 1996 Charteau Chamirey, Mercury, Chardonnay, the 2002 Pouilly-Fuisse, LaCote-Ricotte, Chardonnay, the 1994 Markham, Napa Petite Syrah, 2002 Rosenblum, Rockpile Road, Dry Creek, Petite Syrah and the 2004 Robert Biale Vineyard, Thomann Station Petite Syrah.

As always the food was good. The hosts made a pork loin with fruit sauce which disappeared fast. Some of the notable appetizers included mini crab cakes, sauteed shrimp and mini bell peppers (red, yellow & green) stuffed with a cheese mixture.

Next month we are off to the land of "Zinfandels & Pinot Noir based Rose Champagnes & Sparklings"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

10th Annual Extravaganza For The Senses

Saturday, July 21, 2007

This was the 5th time I have attended this event. It is a fund raiser for the LA Free Clinic. It was again held at 20th Century Studios in Los Angeles. The nice thing about having events at the movie studios, is that the have the fanciest" porta-potties".

This event is always interesting because of the "people watching" you can do. It seems to bring out the young "wanna be Paris Hilton" dollies and the old "wanna be Brad Pitt" geezers. You also get the "botox", "cosmetic surgery" queens. There was one blond female there that had so much done to her face she was grotesque. She looked deformed. Yet by her attitude she thought she was "gorgeous". They had a photo area where you could have your picture taken. She spent quite a bit of time having her picture taken, looking at the results and having a re shoot.

We saw "Jose Conseco" the baseball player. Now that is a person who thinks he is "gods gift". He was very tall, 6'4" or more. Very, very tight black pants, a white, form fitted shirt and a very attractive, dewy eyed blond with an extremely flat stomach, skirt hanging on her hip and top just covering the boobs who looked like she was "barely legal" piece of arm candy on his arm. When you got it, flaunt it.

Wine and food were in abundance as is the case with most of these fundraisers. Its a big pick and choose, especially if you are the designated driver (which I was). I was prepared to eat myself into pig heaven .

One of the busiest food booths was serving sushi and spicy tuna hand rolls. We also had, raviolis stuffed with lobster and shrimp, mini carnita tostadas, (instead or tortillas they used a very thin corn cake), barbecued beef tamales with a tomatillo sauce that was to die for (the vendor is right around the corner from where I work ) " ". Macaroni & cheese seems to be a "comfort food" item . 3 vendors were serving different versions of it.

Beef on a roll, pork on a roll, different versions of bruschetta, many kinds of salads, some with meat, Lawry's prime rib sandwiches. A lot of pasta dishes, most of which I did not eat. I go for the sushi and meat at these events. Someone was serving a roasted pork, which was so juicy and the skin cracked when you bit into it. They did lack in the dessert department but one of the best ice creams I have had was "Choctal". It is available at Bristol Farms and Whole Foods. Don't know the cost but I'm definitely going to get some. Their "Madagascar Vanilla" was to die for.

In all there were 33 vendors for food and 121 wineries represented, some with more that one wine available

I did like the Rochioli Pinot Noir, the Piper-Heidsieck Rose Champagne, Henriot Champagne. I stuck with the lighter wines since I was the driver and didn't taste to many of the others. I did have a "Bicardi Mojito". That was the only hard alcohol vendor there. In years past they have had martini bars, margarita bars and other types of beverages. Even the rep from Alize was not there this year as he has been in the past.

This event has been one that does not seem to be consistent in its food and beverage department. Some years it seems to be better and some years it lacks something. Even the silent auction items were not that impressive this year.

I sometimes wonder if these "fund raisers" that put the squeeze on the restaurants and beverage suppliers are getting to be "too many".

I was told by a wine rep that he has a budget of wine that he gets at the first of every year from his company. This is for these type of fund raisers. When he runs out of items to furnish towards the end of the year it gets to be a scramble for him to find wine for those organizations that get their requests in late. Those who request early are the ones that are taken care of and get the better wines furnished to them. Its an interesting business.

Big California Reds Tasting

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wine Country in Long Beach had a tasting tonight of "Big California" Red wines. Price was $65. Retail prices on the 13 bottles that were poured was from $47 to $130 with the majority of them being over $70.

I will not attempt to make a comment on each wine. I will list what we tasted and state which ones I preferred.

2004 Stag' s Leap Wine Cellars "Artemis", Cabernet, Napa
2003 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, "Fay Vineyard" , Cabernet, Napa
2003 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, "S.L.V." Cabernet, Napa
2004 Duckhorn "Estate Grown", Merlot, Napa
2004 Duckhorn "Three Palms", Merlot, Napa
2003 Duckhorn "Three Palms", Merlot, Napa
2003 Duckhorn "Howell Mtn", Merlot, Howell Mtn.
2004 Duckhorn, Cabernet, Napa
2003 Round Pond "Estate", Cabernet, Rutherford
2003 Beau Vigne, Cabernet, Napa
2004 Oakville, "East Exposure" Cabernet, Oakville
2002 Heitz Cellars "Bella Oaks, Cabernet, Napa
2002 Heitz Cellars, Martha's Vineyard", Cabernet, Napa

I did prefer the Heitz Bella Oaks over the Martha's and The Stag's Leap Artemis over the other 2 Stag's Leap. The Round Pond is a new winery. It was slightly herbaceous but was very nice for the new kid on the block. I'm not a big Merlot fan, but the 2003 Duckhorn Three Palms was as close to a Cab as you can get. Like Randy indicated, if you blind tasted this wine with a Cab you would have a very hard time telling the difference. All the wines were good, but my personal 2 favorites were the Bella Oaks and the Artemis.

At the end Randy pulled out a bottle of a blackberry liqueur that he sells in his store. $13 for a 375ml bottle. My first thought was a new "martini". Vodka, with the blackberry liqueur and blackberries on a stick in the glass. Maybe I will try that on my next "Mary's Martini Madness" night

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Delius Open One Week

Saturday, June 14, 2007

Delius Restaurant has now been open for one week. Went with friends for dinner there tonight. We tried to get into the prix fixe dinner but it was booked way ahead of this date. We did have them reserve a table for us in the walkin side.

Since its only been a week they are still working the bugs out (Stay away for a month if you are perfectionist) We had reserved a table for 5. It was only set for 4 and we had to wait for another chair which took more time than it should have to arrive. The 5th set up had to be asked for. The waiter opened a bottle of wine that I brought and poured everyone a glass from it without letting me taste it first to make sure it was good. We all ordered soup and 3 of us got our soup right away and the other 2 soups came after we finished ours. These are all staffing problems and Dave will be having a staff meeting to address these issues. Like I indicated in an earlier post, it takes close to a month to get the kinks and bugs worked out of a new restaurant and all new waitstaff, some who have not had much experience working in a higher end establishment. And as all new places go some of the waitstaff will probably not make the cut. Time will tell.

The food that we had was typical Delius food. Perfect. We all had the tomato/basil soup with lobster. What can I say. It was so good.

The Caesar salad had anchovies in it like a true Caesar. A filet was cooked just to medium rare which was requested. A special of the day was a pasta with a marinara sauce with shrimp, crab & lobster. I was told it was great also. I did not taste it because of the tomato sauce. My lamb shank was perfect, juicy and full of flavor and fell off the bone when I started to cut into the meat. The food is always top notch at Delius. They are my standard when I go to compare restaurants.

I took a bottle of 2004 Kosta-Browne Pinot and a 2003 Stolpman Angeli (syrah). Good wine was made to shared with friends. And these wines were both very good. Dave and the bar manager, Ed were both impressed.

I did notice that the end of the bar area did have the doors on to hide all the bar "stuff". This was done since I was in on Tuesday. Hopefully the back bar will be in place soon. That is going to look so good. And when the trim gets around the five wine coolers on the wall it should really take on a look of sophistication.

The place was packed, the prix fixe dining room was full and everyone seemed to be having a good time. They still need to get the acoustic problem fixed in the walkin dining area. Hopefully soon.

I will be back in this next Tuesday with friends for dinner. It will be interesting to see what more has been done inside to complete the interior. And I will get to try another new food dish.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

First Night At Delius

Friday, July 6, 2007

This is the first day that Delius is open to the public for business. www.Deliusrestaurant,com . When I arrived at approximately 5:30 the place was close to being full. Sat with friends in the bar/lounge area and ordered a couple of appetizers and a light dinner.

Service did start out slow, but as the night progressed the waitstaff seemed to be getting into the groove. This is a new place with new personnel and it does take some time to get used to working with people. I only saw one person from the old establishment. If you are a person that can't go with the flow, then I would suggest that you wait a month before coming in. By then the bugs will have been worked out.

As always the food was good. The menus has some old favorites but a lot of new items. Pricing has gone up slightly, but less than I thought it would.

I had the wild mushroom stuffed ravioli at $13. It came with soup or salad. I opted for the soup, salmon bisque. The cup of soup was close to the same size as the bowl at the old place. Friends had the bacon wrapped chicken breast stuffed with blue cheese with a starch & vegetables, $16 and the chipotle macaroni & cheese., $10. Other friends who came later ordered a bowl of salmon bisque, $6 (larger than the old place), and an iceberg lettuce wedge with a maple ranch dressing, goat cheese, avocado and macadamia nuts, $11, which they said was very good and the procuitto wrapped shrimp, $10. All entrees come with either soup or salad

I noticed that the place was full almost all night long. There was a turnover of people, but always full. This bodes well for Dave & Louise.

I can't wait to start trying all the other new items on the menu. Yes this place is different than the "old" Delius. Not the little cozy nook that we were all used to. But it is new, exciting and still has the friendly atmosphere and the great food they are known for.

Delius' Finally Opened

Thursday, July 6, 2007

After many months (actually close to 2 years) the new Delius' doors opened for a pre-opening soiree.

The first thing you notice is a large parking lot that is not shared with anyone else. (Hallelujah)

When you walk in the front door, right in front of you is a very large expanse of mahogany with outcrops (shelves) of mahogany and recessed lighting. This same detail will be on the back wall of the bar area.

It still has the Delius touch. The main walk-in dining area is with the bar/lounge area. There are free standing tables, booths and a long banquette against the far wall with small tables. Track lighting with individual spotlights for each table hangs from above. There are soffitts around the dining area which soon will be filled with an acoustical sound absorbing material. Right down the noise level is high. The ceiling is open to the roof with exposed ductwork, etc. painted a dark color so you do not notice that it is open.

4 wine cellars line the one wall in the main dining room. Hopefully they will soon be filled with the wine that is stacked very high in the "new private" dining area that has a window that looks out into the kitchen area that Louise will be cooking in.

The prix fixe dining area is a separate room with a back entrance/exit for the servers coming from the kitchen (no more coming through the dining room to get to the bar). The other dining room is served by a second door in the hallway.

The kitchen is set up into 2 cooking areas. One for the cook and one for Louise who will still cook the high end dinners for the prix fixe dining room (reservations only) The dishwashing area is larger than the kitchen at the old place.

We were served an assortment of appetizers, true to Delius' reputation. Endive leaves, stuffed with a lobster concoction, stuffed mushrooms, procuitto wrapped grilled shrimp, ginger wontons, chicken wrapped up in a very small crepe like roll with a sauce , gourmet pizzas, freshly made, very thinly sliced potato chips (addicting), small pieces of chicken in a lemon dipping sauce, miniature cream puffs and cookies. Wine was being poured freely and the bar was open for those who purchase mixed drinks.

Everyone I talked with tonight felt the same as I did, that this place is going to be a real winner.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Dinner At Tantalizing Thai

Saturday, June 30, 2007.

This was the monthly gathering of "CJ's Wine & Dine" group. There were 14 in attendance tonight. We have been to Tantalizing Thai several times in the past. Convenient location and ample parking which is always a big plus for me.

Tonight it seemed that were a lot of champagnes and sparking wines brought. More so than what is "normal" for this group. I did not keep a list of what we drank but there was a 2005 Carmondy McKnight Cab Franc and I brought a 2003 Stolpman Angeli., . Since we had so much bubbly and I had been tasting wines earlier in the day at the LA Wine Fest, I did not get into the reds that much.

We started out with "Tom Yum Koong" which is a spicy broth soup with shrimp and straw mushrooms. I really like this soup and had three bowls of it.

Next out of the kitchen was Satay Chicken with peanut sauce and Thai Spring rolls.

Our entrees included, Pineapple Fried Rice, Green Chicken Curry (I'm not a big fan of curry but this dish is very good), Tantalizing Mixed Vegetables (basil, eggplant, asparagus, cauliflower, tomatoes stir fried in a Kra Prao sauce).

The next two dishes were my favorites. Crying Tiger Steak (ribeye with a lime juice sauce) and a new dish we had not had before - Three Flavor Salmon. (Grilled salmon with sweet, sour and spicy wok blended sauces.) This salmon dish was very good.

A nice group of people, lots of bubblies and good food. What more can you ask for. I was a contented female (what a novelty).

L.A. Wine Fest

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Attended the LA Wine Fest,, aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The tasting was held in the Grand Salon which is where "Sunday Brunch" is held. It took awhile for all the vendors to show up but about 3:00 it was starting to get very crowded and busy. The air circulation left a lot to be desired.

There also seemed to be a bit of "lack of knowledge" of the staff. In their program book they had a list of winemakers that were to appear. When we started asking where these people would be, no one knew. Even a person that was supposed to be one of the organizers didn't know what we were taking about. I had to show her the list in the program but she did not have a clue. We finally saw one of the "winemakers" that was on the agenda and found out they were giving a series of lectures in an adjacent room. No sign next the room of any kind to inform people of what was taking place. One of the speakers was Wes Hagen from Clos Pepe Vineyard. I just had dinner at their house last weekend. (see posting).

There were 80 vendors attending. Some of the vendors were distributors or wine stores. They had multiple wines on their tables that they were pouring. One of the wineries that I did like and I had tasted their wines last year at the "Passport" tasting at Delius Restaurant, , was Barretto Cellars,, They are in the Paso Robles area and they specialize in Spanish varietals. .

Twisted Oak cellars , They are from the Murphy area in Calaveras County were there also. About 6 years ago when I was in the Sierra Foothills tasting, I walked into their tasting room which had been opened only 9 days. I had a barrel sampling of their Tempranillo and was impressed. They had since received many good reviews on their wines.

The price of the ticket was $40 for a 1 day pass and $70 for Saturday and Sunday. I opted for the one day pass but in retrospect, if I attend next year I will a get a 2 day pass. It was difficult to get to all the tables because of the crowd of people. I think you really need 2 days to take in all in.

For the most part this was a lot of fun. My biggest gripe was the lack of knowledge from the staff and the lack of air circulation. If you were on the porthole side of the room, you were getting quite heated. Perhaps when they move into the Queen Salon for Sundays event, things may improve. They also needed to keep the cheese and cracker tables better supplied.