Saturday, September 29, 2007

Surprise Ending

Friday, September 28, 2007

Normally I do not post to the blog my weekly wine tastings that I do on a regular basis. But tonight was special, I stopped at the local wine shop MAWL, www.mawlwines.com, for my weekly "fix". David had Pinots on the agenda tonight. Several people were there that I knew, but a little later in the evening, old friends, Terry & Cora came in. This was their first wine tasting in several months, since Cora had surgery on her neck. She showed me her scar which looked like a huge zipper. It ran from the base of her skull down at least 6 inches. It was the same surgery Laura Bush just had but Cora had 5 places in her spine to repair and Mrs. Bush had one.

After tasting the wines we decided to go to Buhkara for dinner. 5 of us went and had a great time. The food is extremely good (Indian Cuisine) and the fact that Cora was finally getting her taste back was a joy. I brought a bottle 2002 William Seylem Pinot and along with the other 2 bottles we consumed them all. It was a great dinner, because of the company making it special.

Life is too short not to have good food, good wine and very good friends.

Sake Seminar

Wednesday, September26, 2007

Wine Country, www.thewinecountry.com, had another "Sake Seminar". I so enjoyed the one last year, I had to attend this one.

Sake is made with four simple ingredients. Rice, water, mold & yeast. It is a very labor intensive product to make. I will not go into the details but I was very surprised at how long it takes to mill the rice and make sake.

Good Sake is always served cold. The 3 levels of sake are, Junmai, Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daigingo. Only 0.5% of all Sake production in Japan reaches the Daiginjo level, hence the price reflects it.

Tonight we tasted 6 Sakes . These Sakes had alcohol levels of 14.9% to 16%

First up was "Nabu Bijin "Southern Beauty" served with Oysters on the half shell with shallot vinegar.

Next was Fukucho "Moon on the Water" - made by a female sake brewer and Chiyonosono "Scared Power". These were served with steamed clams in white wine, shallots & parsley and asparagus with aoli.

The next two were Sato no Homare "Pride of the Village" made by a 6oo year old brewery, 55 generations of the same family and Ginjo Shizuku "Divine Droplets" . These were served with a Pork tenderloin with a peach glaze.

Last up was Tozai "Voices in the Mist". This was an unfiltered Sake. Served with a spicy salmon tartare and rice.

There is a website that has a lot of information of sake, http://www.esake.com/,

Belgium Beer Dinner

Monday, September 24, 2007.

The last beer dinner of the season was held tonight at The Belmont Brewing Company. The weather was perfect for sitting outside. The light from Long Beach and the LA Harbor were intoxicating and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore made for a very romantic interlude. But alas, I was with female friends and married men and a crowd of 60 people.

First course was a Cheese and Prochuitto (spelling taken off the menu) plate served with "Wittekerke White, a wheat ale. Very light beer and something good to start off the dinner with.

The soup served was a roasted red bell pepper with smoked gouda and served with "Bornen Double". The soup was very good but the beer wasn't to my liking. I guess it was good if you like that type of beer.

Next came a salad made with bibb lettuce, blue cheese and apples. Very good combination. This was served with "Bieken Honey Ale". A good pairing but I drank a very small amount of this beer. The taste of the honey ale's always gets to me fast. A little goes a long way.

Main course was a lemon herb dill chicken with rice and vegetables. It had very good flavor but by this time I was starting to get full so 90% of this dish went home with me for lunch the next day. This was served with "Piraat Triple"

Dessert is always a disappointment at BBC. The chef obviously is not into desserts. We were served "institutional" eclairs. They sell better ones at Costco. I ate 1 small eclair. There were 3 on the plate. It just wasn't worth the extra calories to eat something very mediorce. This was served with "Golden Draak". One of the better beers of the night.

The evening was great, most of the food was good, the conversation was good, the ambiance spectacular and "Jack" was out preforming himself. When I left he had a huge grin on his face and was a little wobbly so we all assumed he had a great time like we did. Probably better by the looks of him

Monthly Wine Get Together

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Our monthly get together was held today. The theme was Central Coast Pinots (Noir, Gris & Blanc). Technically the "central coast" runs from Edna Valley to Monterey but everyone includes the Santa Barbara area in their interpretation. Which is good because we had some very good Pinots from that area. The real standouts were Sanford (2002), Ken Brown, Sea Smoke and Badge. All the wines brought were good except for the 2004 Sanford.

It was interesting to compare the 2002 which was that last year Bruno D'Alfonso made the wine and the 2004 which was not up to standards. Also the 2005 Badge is the new label of Bruno D'Alfonso and to compare them was quite a treat.

We had 14 Pinot Noirs and 6 of them were from the Sta. Rita Hills.

Spanish Dinner & Flamenco Dancers at Sebastiani's

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sebastiani's, is a Italian Bistro run by Pablo and his sister Maricarmen who are from Peru. (only in California). Tonight's event was a Spanish food and wine dinner with the added attraction of Flamenco dancers thrown in for our entertainment. I met up with 4 friends for tonight's soiree.

While we sitting there waiting for dinner to begin, I had heard a deep throated (no not that one) sound from the parking area. I said to my friend, Remy, sounds like a Ferrari or a Lamborgini. As the car parked in front, we turned to take a look. A beautiful black Lamborgini pulled in . The driver was joining the group for dinner.

First course was a Catalan Mussel soup served with a Bodegas Montecillo 2005 Rioja Blanco. The winery was started in 1874 by the Osborne family. The grape was Virui which I heard of for the first time a few weeks ago. The soup was outstanding and paired beautifully with the wine.

Second course was "Fabada Asturiana" which is a fava bean stew with Chirizo de Bilboa & Morcilla de Cebolla ( a blood sausage). This was served with a Bodegas Montecillo Tempranillo Crianza. Again a great dish ( I could have made the entire meal this dish) and a very good pairing. They use American Oak barrels and the winemaker is a female.

The next dish was one that I was looking forward to all week. Conejo Al Asafran de Castilla (rabbit slowed cooked in saffron broth). I am a big fan of rabbit. Unfortunately this dish fell apart somehow. The very thinly sliced potatoes and the gravy were excellent but the rabbit medallions were overcooked and very dry. They would have been better off cooking a whole rabbit and served chunks of it with the gravy. At least the meat would have been edible. This was served with a Osborne Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvigon blend which I thought was the best wine of the night.

Last course was Paella Negra.( a classic dish from Valencia) This turned out to be the the most controversial dish of the night. Arborio rice, seafood, leeks and red pepers finished with squid ink. I personally liked the flavors. Most people did not. The seafood was not in abundance as it should have been and the rice was undercooked. This was served with a 1998 Bodegas Montecillo Gran Reserva Rioja.

Topping off the dinner was a homemade raspberry Gelato which was excellent.

I have dined at this restaurant several times, and I always wonder why they do not offer coffee at the end of dinner as most establishments do.

The Flamenco dancers performed for us between the rabbit course and the Paella. There were very good. I am always fascinated with the footwork.

Upon leaving the restaurant the guest chef (from Spain) was standing outside. I went up to talk with him about the dinner and told him what I liked and what was not to my liking. He was surprised that he could have bought rabbit across the street at the Beef Palace and not had to order it special. I always go the Beef Palace for my rabbit and other exotic meats. They may be frozen but they are available.

As we were talking I heard "deep throat" coming back into the parking lot. The car pulled up right in front of us and a boy about 8 years old got out of the passenger side . He had a mop of blond curly hair and his eyes were like saucers. Upon exiting the car he walks up and says " I want one of these". His name was Santiago and he was the chefs son. Such innocence. He had not a clue what the car cost and I'm sure he did not care. All he knew was that "he wanted one".

I had such great expectation for this dinner and unfortunately I was disappointed in certain aspects of it. But they were generous in their wine pours. But I'm sure Santiago was not disappointed in his ride.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pizza Wines & PIzza

Friday, September 7, 2007

This is the third year that I have attended the "Pizza Wines" shindig at Wine Country, www.thewinecountry.com, . This year they served 4 different kinds of pizza. First out was a cheese, spinach, olive pizza. It had ricotta cheese under the creamy cheese topping. Next came a sundried tomato and basil pizza, followed by a tomato topped pizza and then the always popular sausage pizza. I did enjoy this tasting more than last years where they only served 2 types. The wines all paired well and if you saved some of the first pizzas to try with the wines that were brought out later it was an interesting taste test. We had a good time and were literally stuffed by time we ran out of wine.

I tasted two more varietals of wines tonight and have added them to my list for the Century Club. My count is now 116 varietals tasted.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Stone Brewing Beer Dinner

Monday, August 27, 2007

Belmont Brewing Company, http://www.belmontbrewing.com/, hosts about 6 beer dinners over the course of spring & fall. I had not attended one since last year . Since I do like the beers of Stone Brewing, http://www.stonebrew.com/, so I decided to forget my irritation with the BBC and attend this dinner. It was $50 plus tax & tip. The tip is what grates me. Mandatory 18%. It should be 15% and let me add more if I feel the service warrants it. Like last year the bread came out late. It should be brought to your table when you are seated., not at the second course

On with the dinner.

The setting was perfect. Outdoors next to the sand and water with the sunset coming. When the sun set could see all the lights from Long Beach, San Pedro and Palos Verdes. BBC does have a great piece of real estate.

At 6:30 they started bringing bottles of the first beer around which was "Levitation Ale" a very light ale, only 5%, which paired nicely with the Andouille Sausage with a Honey Tomato Basil Chutney. The chutney was really good and paired well with the sausage. They did come around and ask if you wanted more beer.

They were very generous in the amount of beer they served. One bottle per person and if you wanted more you could have it. The Levitation I did finish my bottle.

The second course was an Italian White Bean Soup. I did have to add salt & pepper to bring out the flavors. But tasty. It was served with the pale ale, which is not one of my favorite beers. I had about a third of the bottle.

The salad was Heirloom Caprese with Balsamic reduction. I did eat one slice of a yellow tomato and the mozzarella cheese. I am not a big fan of raw tomatoes and that is why I picked the yellow which had great flavor. Less acid. They served this with the "Arrogant Bastard" beer, which is one of my favorites. This beer was the only draft beer and it came around in pitchers.

The main course was a Seabass with Risotto Cake in a Bisque Sauce. This was a good dish. Not to sure about it being seabass but it was a white fish with a very good sauce. The risotto cake
was a nice touch and the veggies were julienned. The beer with this was "Ruination". A good pairing.

Dessert was another story. This was the great disappointment of the evening. The beer with dessert was a smoked porter which I really like. It has a chocolate flavor to it and it could have paired well with so may simple things that the chef could have made. (easier to serve that what we got). Dessert was a scoop of Spumoni ice cream with a biscotti. The ice cream was half melted by the time we had it placed in front of us. Did not pair with the beer at all. It was like the chef forgot about dessert and threw something together at the last minute. A Sticky Toffee Pudding, A Gingerbread Cake with a Caramel Sauce, a Dark Chocolate Cake or Brownie Volcano Cake would have been great with this porter.

It was an enjoyable evening and I will probably do the next dinner in October at BBC, which will be Belgium beers.

No Wine & Dine This Month

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Today was the "Wine & Dine" monthly dinner. It is being held at Ante's in San Pedro. A Croatian Restaurant that has been at their location it seems forever.

I was not able to participate in this months dinner as this is the day the my nephew decided to have a memorial "gathering" for his father who passed away earlier this month. And as I had known my brother-in-law (51 years) before he met my sister, it took precedence over me going to dinner.

So no report on a August Wine & Dine dinner.