Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Regional Wine Dinner From Friulana

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

La Parolaccia Osteria Italiana in Long Beach hosted a wine dinner this evening. I wanted to do this dinner as the menu had all light cheese and wine sauces and not a marinara sauce was to be seen. The area in Italy was Friuli which is in the northeastern part of the country bordering with Slovenia and on the Adriactic sea.

First course was a dish called"Involtini di verza alla Giuliana" - cabbage, filled and rolled with Italian ham and shredded cheese, baked with a light cream sauce. This was my favorite dish of the evening. I have never had a cabbage roll made this way and I though it was great. They served this dish with a wine called Ribolla Gialla. A nice white wine and that name is the grape that it is made from. Another new grape varietal to add to my quest to taste 200 different varietals of grapes.

Next was a pasta dish - penne type pasta with Italian sausage, white wine and mascarpone cheese. This had a little bite to it and went quite well with the Pinot Nero wine that was served.

Then the salad course, baby lettuce with sauteed onions, pear tomato and grated cheese. Nothing over the top but nice flavor. We had a Pinot Grigio to drink.

Main course was marinated duck breast, cooked in red wine with herbs and served with a walnut and mushroom sauce. This dish was quite good. You got a one half of the full breast and the sauce was excellent. I had to take most of mine home as I was starting to get a tad full and we still had dessert. They poured a Refosco wine with it and again the pairing was good.

Dessert was a cream puff filled with creme Anglais and sliced strawberries, A nice light touch at the end of a heavy meal.

All the wines were poured generously and you did not want for an empty glass.

The food was very good, the wines paired well but we had the usual noise factor to contend with. I'm getting just old enough that I like some sense of quiet when I'm dining. The trend nowadays seems to be no acoustics. I hope this trend stops soon. As usual they gave away T-shirts, bottles of wine, aprons etc., which made for a fun way to end the evening.

April's Gathering of The Wino's

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Our monthly get together was held today. As always we had a theme and as always we had wines brought that do not meet the theme.

But this time I will say that several of the non-themed wines were the hit of the day.

Toady's theme was California Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Sparkling. The non-conforming were French and they were good.

There were a couple of Merlots that I really liked. Uvada from Oakville was really nice. I was unfamiliar with this label and I found that I really liked it. Another surprise was a 1998 Rosenthal (Malibu) Devon Vineyard Merlot. It was drinking very nice and age seemed have helped it.

A total of 24 wines were opened and when I left it looked like most of them had been consumed.

Another month bites the dust and we are looking forward to May's gathering.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Stolpman Wine Dinner at Delius

Friday, April 25, 2008

One of my favorite wineries was featured tonight with dinner at my favorite restaurant. Can't get any better than that.

This was like a family gathering. I knew 80% of the people attending and I also know the Stolpman family. A good time was had by all.

First course was an Ahi Poke - excellent, served with L'Avion. A white blend of marsanne, rousanne and a touch of viognier.

Soup course was a mushroom walnut served with a 1999 Sangiovese. The wine was light in style and paired well with the soup.

First course was Crispy Duck Breast with Pear and Green Peppercorn Sauce. The wine with this dish was a 2005 Sangiovese. Big, fruity. My style of wine. I have drank my last bottle so I may just have to get some more.

Main course was Olive Oil Poached Rack of Lamb with Cucumber Raita, Mint Gremolate and Heirloom Tabbouleh. They poured their Estate Syrah. Again an excellent pairing.

Dessert was Chocolate Fallen Souffle Cake with White Chocolate sauce, there was an orchid on the plate and several of us dipped the flower in the white chocolate and ate it. This was paired with the Hilltops Syrah.

All the food and wines were excellent. I could have been happier. Peter Stolpman was there pouring his family wines. Marilyn was attending along with Peter's lady, Jessica. The only downside of the event was that Tom Stolpman could not attend. He was trying case in Santa Maria and the jury did not come back with the verdict until very late afternoon. At least he won the case.

This was Steve's introduction into wine dinners. The night before at the Starling Diner was his first. It was good that we started out with a lower priced dinner and wine combination. This way he knows that there are different levels and it usually is tied into the price charged.

Starling Diner Wine Dinner

Thursday, April 24, 2008

King Wine Company (Los Alamitos) was the featured wine at a new place in the shore area called the Starling Diner. This apparently at one time was a small grocery store. It is right in the middle of a residential area. Not where you would expect to see a restaurant. Very small, cute place but very noisy.

Gary King was there pouring his wines. He does not grow any grapes himself but sources his grapes from all over California.

We started off with a Portobello Mushroom Bruschetta. The bread was crispy the cheese was a mixture of something (we were trying to figure it out) and sauteed mushrooms on top. It was excellent. We downed 2 platters of this dish. The wine being poured was 2005 Central Coast Cabernet Franc. I think this is one of Gary's better wines.

Next up was a Sonoma Goat Cheese Tart with Baby Greens - The crust was phyllo dough, the goat cheese was very light and fluffy and they had candied nuts in it. Again a very good dish This was served with 2004 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. And it went very well together. The Cab was on the lighter side and paired well.

Main course was a choice of Yankee Pot Roast with polenta served with a 2007 Solano County Merlot or Blue Crabcakes with Polenta served with a 2006 Monterey Chardonnay.

4 at our table had crabcakes and 2 went with the pot roast. The crabcakes were good but after having the ones from Shades, I was spoiled. I did have a taste of the pot roast and it also was very good.

Dessery was Dark Chocoplate Pots de Creme with a 2004 California Port. The bitter chocolate was a good compliment to the port. I normally do not care for sweets with sweet wines but this worked well..

Gary King did all the pairings. He came into the restaurant and tasted all the food before making his selection. This was a much better dinner, food wise that the disaster at Park Ave. ,last year where the chef did the pairing and that man should not be allowed near a bottle of wine.

This was a good and interesting dinner. It is out if the way for me but if you are in the area of 3rd & Ximeno it is worth a stop. The staff was friendly and competent. The food good and the ambiance "different".

Taste of Huntington Beach

Sunday, April 20, 2008

This is the second year I have attended this fundraiser. Last year it was held at the Hyatt. This year they had it outdoors at the sports complex next to the library. It is a fundraiser for the Childrens Library.

Its a different group of people that attend this event. More of the younger, beer drinking crowd. I also drink the beer at this event. A lot of micro breweries and they are good. The wines being poured are all lower end. The reps do not bring our the better quality. Most of the reps donate the wines so you will never see top end stuff this event.

They had a very large tent set up and the majority of the food and beverages were inside. The people grilling food were kept on the outside, obviously for fire safety. Their silent auction items this year were more numerous and the food & beverage stands were more abundant. Also a lot more people attending. My biggest peeve was that they allowed minors in. A lot of strollers being pushed around and into people. Little kids running around . You had to be really careful. I don't think these alcohol based events should allow anyone under 21. Since the beer was being poured very fast and set out on the tables a lot of older teenagers were able to take the plastic glasses and drink. It was so crowded that the vendors could not keep up with who was grabbing a glass and who wasn't. I feel it was a very bad decision to allow them access to the event. Of course Huntington Beach's finest who were patrolling the event were outside the gates basking in the sunshine. After we told them what was happening - several hours into the event - they decided to go inside and have a look..

I did talk with the "president" of whatever organization that was putting this event on. She was a older lady who took offense at my questions. She said she could not stop anyone from coming in. I then proceeded to tell her other wine & food events do not allow anyone under 21 to attend and that this was the only one that I have attended that allowed minors and she had a hard time with that. The problem with "volunteers" is that they mean well but most of them have no business or organization skills. They are do gooders but don't "do good".

There were some really great dishes being offered. The Lazy Dog Cafe had a Champagne Mohito which was really good. There was a cheese and macaroni dish with a lobster sauce on top. Ahi Poke. A spicy seafood concoction by Savannah at The Beach, shrimp w/green chilies and papaya. A great shrimp scampi from the Arbors. Kings Fish House had a New Orleans BBQ shrimp made with garlic, lemon, scallions, brown sugar, tomato juice and cayenne pepper and fresh oysters. So we know where I was a lot. Several pizza companies and Tommy's Pastrami was doing sandwiches. The line was too long but their sandwiches are good. The Monkey House had several great desserts. Shades at The Waterfront Hilton was offering crab cakes and they were some of the best I have ever had.

I will definitely attend next year but I do hope they get the problem with "minors" solved

Wine & Dine

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The monthy "wine & dine" dinner was held at Duong Son restaurant in Westminister. Really appreciate the food here after China.

There were 18 people a two large round tables. Some new faces and a few that I had not seen in awhile. A lot of nice wines were poured. I did not keep track of them but I brought a 2003 Sea Smoke Bottela Pinot which was showing well. A bottle of 2005 Chateau Margene Sangiovese was a surprise. I have not opened mine yet and I was nice to see what it was about. I will let mine lay down for another year or so. It was a very big wine. There was a 2003 Gary Farrell Rochioli Pinot brought, It was nice but not spectacular. There was a good Italian Nebiollo, a Chablis that was really good and several others at our table that were top notch wines. I also opened later in the dinner at 2003 Turley Old Vine Zin. Great taste.

The food tonight was heavy in the seafood department.

Lettuce wraps with shrimp - personally I like the chicken version better. It was good but did not seem to have enough flavor for me.

Tofu with seafood sauce. Doung Son's tofu is outstanding. I could learn to like the stuff if I could have it cooked this way all the time.

Garlic green beans with sea bass. This has become a staple dish for us. So much flavor.

Fat noodles with seafood, chicken and beef. Finally a dish that Margie could eat. She does not do seafood so at this stage we let her have the chicken and beef out of this dish.

Salt & pepper calamari - another staple and so much better than the big chain restaurant's.

Jelly fish - strips of jelly fish sauteed and a little on the crispy side. This was dish that went either way. You either loved it or not. I thought it was great and so did Terry. He finished the platter of it.

Barbecued ribs - another dish we order frequently. It has almost a maple syrup flavor and it is so good.

Fried Beef - I had this dish in China and it was a new one for me. Duong Son's version was slightly different but the flavor was top notch. We will have to have this again.

Dessert was mango slices, sweet dumplings with lotus seed filling and their strange warm tapioca type pudding. Don't know what it is bit is another one of those yes/no dishes.

Can't wait for another trip to this restaurant.

Belgium Ale Tasting

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wine Country in Signal Hill (Long Beach) does a Belgium Ale tasting every year. They have had beer reps present before and you always got a mug, glass or tankard to take home.

This year it fell flat. One of the store employees was the spokesperson this evening and I think I know more than they do about the ale's.

I did notice that the amount of people in attendance was off dramatically from last year. It may be the economy or maybe they were smarter then me and decided not to attend.

This will be my last one also unless they change their format, get a better spokesperson and improve the nibblies that are put out. Yvonne is no longer with them and it shows in the food department. Steve left several years ago and it shows in the beer department.

Malibu Wine Classic

Sunday, April 5, 2008

I had not driven to Malibu in several years. I was surprised that it only took about 1 hour to get to the Civic Center which is where this "wine & food" function was taking place. After securing a parking spot 2 blocks away we got our glasses and headed for 3 of the tables of wines that I wanted to taste before they ran out of wine. Saxum, Linne Calodo and L'Aventure. It was a smart move (sometimes I amaze myself) as these 3 wineries were the first to run out. Saxum was pouring several wines but the one that I really remember was the "Bone Rock". I was surprised to see it on the table because it is difficult to obtain. L'Adventure was pouring his Rose , which I do like because its on the dry side with beautiful hints of strawberries and his "Optimus" which is a blend. Both good choices. Linne Colodo had 5 bottles lined up. The one I really remembered was "Mortar", retails for $95. I have not gotten to the point where I will spend that kind of money for a bottle of wine. I can really appreciate the wines but that is pushing my budget button.

In all there were 62 wineries listed on the program but a few did not show up. I was surprised that there were 5 wineries from the "Malibu AVA". I had only known about Rosenthal before today. I did get to talk with several winemakers in the Paso area and I intend on dropping in on them in December when I take a "week of wine" vacation in Paso Robles. I actually stay in Avila Beach which is about 10 minutes from San Luis Obispo. It puts me close to Edna Valley and the drive into Paso Robles is only 15 to 20 minutes.

This event was fundraiser for "Childhelp". I had not been able to attend in the past years because of prior commitments and it also fairly new. This was their 5th fundraiser.

The food was ok. A couple of things stood out but on the whole it did not stand up to other fundraisers that I have done. But they did have a lot of wineries pouring that you don't see in the Los Angeles/Orange County area. I definitely will do this one again.

Monthy Gathering of The Winos

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Our monthly "gathering of the winos" (SAWG) came just a few days after my return from China. Fortunately I was over my mini case of food poisoning that I along with 3 others in our tour group came down with from the last dinner of the trip.

The theme for this days "gathering" was "Wines From The Cuff of Italy". (Aosta, Torino, Milano, Bolzano, Trento, Trieste and Venezia) These were all lighter style wines so there was not any big blockbusters. They were all good if you are into that style of wine. The only bad ones were 2 bottles that were corked. 23 bottles were brought along with a bottle of Chianti. It always amazes me that people cannot either read the "flyer" correctly or just don't "care" about what they bring. Everyone else seemed to be able to read and comprehend the area from which the wines were supposed to come from.

We had 2 sparklings, 4 whites and the balance was "red". You can see were our allegiance lies.

There were several people in attendance that had not been to a SAWG function in quite some time. It was nice to be able to catch up with everyone.

As usual the food was good and the wines were drank and another "Sunday" was put away.

Side Trip To China

March 19 to March 27, 2008

Made a quick trip to China. 4 cities in 8 days. The only negative about the trip was the weather. Since it is Spring a lot of the days were overcast which made if difficult to get really good pictures but the trees and flowers were starting to bloom and were spectacular.

A friend of mine gave me a small digital camera (my first) and I was real happy that he did. It took great pictures and was a lot easier to handle than my old camera. The day we went to "The Great Wall" it was overcast so the pictures are not as sharp as I would have liked them to be.

Our breakfast everyday was a buffet with a mixture of Western style, Chinese and Japanese foods. The two other meals of the day were all Chinese food I did have some "New" dishes that I had not encountered here in the states. It made it interesting and although I am a big fan of Asian cuisine at the end of 8 days I was really craving " meat". Their fruits and vegetables are very fresh and it is grown locally. China does not have large farms like we do here in the states where so much is done by machine. Since they have "billions" of people everything is done by hand.

I saw very little in the way of "equipment". Even the highways was being built "by hand"

The quality of the foods was good but it really made me appreciate "Duong Son" restaurant in Westminister all the more.