Saturday, May 31, 2008


Hi-Times wine store in Costa Mesa was hosting an Australian wine tasting at the Pacific Club this Sunday, June 1, 2008. I was really looking forward to the event as I have done their New Zealand and South African wine tours before and had a good time.

Unfortunately they did not have enough people sign up for it and they had to cancel. The other events have had close to 400 people in attendance and this time they had less than 100 sign ups.

I don't know it is the economy or the timing. This is the season for proms, graduations etc., Their other events have been later in the year so who knows. I do know that I am disappointed. Now I suppose I will stay home and clean house. Would much rather be out and about so maybe something will pop up.

They are doing a Spanish wine tour in October so I do have that to look forward to.

German Wine Dinner at Delius

Friday, May 30, 2008

This was a dinner I was really looking forward to for some time. Delius',, prix fixe dinning room was booked with a waiting list. The wine importer, Rudi Wiest and his sales rep Allie Mitchell along with Randy form the Wine Country,, were at the table I was seated at. When you book as a single at Delius they put you at the rep's table. Always a lot of fun. Some times more so than others and this time was one of them. Rudi Wiest is an extremely knowledgeable about his wines and also with food pairings. His wines are poured at many of the "very top" restaurants in the US. Places that I cannot afford to eat at.

We were treated a sparkling wine when we first entered the room. I did not write the name down as I thought it would be on the order form, but it was not. All I know is it was very good, a little dry but great fruity taste. The cost was about $34 so I guess I will have to track it down at Wine Country. Fortunately by arriving first, I got 3 glasses of this jewel.

Appetizer was a "Caviar Parfait", caviar, chopped egg, perhaps it was sour cream, diced pickles served on a miniature blini with a few field greens. Served with a 2006 Hans Wirsching Estate Silvaner, Franken. The wine was excellent and the food matched it. After tasting this particular Silvaner, I feel that it would be a great wine with oysters instead of sauvignon blanc. Rudi Wiest said it paired extremely well with sashimi. So that is another pairing I am going to have to try.

Next, wild mushroom with lobster soup. Louise is such a master with soup. Another big hit. Served with a 2006 Wegelar Pure Riesling, Rheingau.

The foie gras was served next. I told the waitstaff if anyone didn't eat foie gras they could give it to me. Only one person sent the plate back to the kitchen without touching it. So I was very lucky to get two plates of this dish. The dish consisted of seared foie gras with rhubarb compote, rhubarb gastrique, rhubarb gelle and lime salt. I was in 7th heaven. Rudi Wiest did not like the pairing of the wine that was served with the dish. He said the wine was too sweet and it should have been a 1992 instead of a 1994. He was right about the pairing. Tasting the foie gras with the wine was great but when you took some of the rhubarb components it wiped the wine out. This dish was served with a 1994 Wegler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Rielsing Spatlese, Mosel.

Main course was Crispy pork loin with red wine glazed cabbage, apple relish and apple & pork
ravioli with hazelnut brown butter. It just does not get better than this. The pork was tender and juicy. the cabbage was perfect and the ravioli was great. I took most of this dish home , as I did want to have room for dessert. I ate the leftovers this morning for breakfast. Tasted just as good today as yesterday only I did not have leftover wine to drink with it. The dish was served with a 2006 Furst Spatburgunder Tradition (Pinot Noir), Franken. Beautiful wine with this dish. A great pairing. This is a very food friendly wine.

Dessert was apple strudel with warm vanilla custard. An orchid was on the dish and its edible so I dipped in in the custard and ate it.

David from Delius opened at bottle of 2003 Pfalz Pinot, Spatlese Dry, Weingut Okonotwierat Rebholz at our table (don't check the spelling because I was writing the name down without my glasses in a semi lighted room so it may be close but not perfect). It was also very good. It is a wine that Delius has in their wine selection book.

Again another great dinner at Delius with good wines. Got home at midnight so you know I had a good time.

Delius still has an acoustic problem in the dining areas. They are getting ready to tackle the prix fixe dining area first. I sure hope they do it soon. The noise level isn't deafening but it is way to high for me. I feel a really high end dining establishment should have great ambiance and the lack of noise is one the enjoyable aspects of dining out. If I want noise I can go to any chain restaurant and get it. It seems that the trend today is, noise, noise, noise.

Kings Fish House

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I had a gift certificate for Kings Fish House,, that was expiring the end of May. I think that it should be illegal to put an expiration of a gift certificate. They take the "cash" in exchange for a certificate. Cash does not "expire" so a gift certificate should not also. My take on it "its stealing".

So I went over to the local "Kings" at Bella Terra in Huntington Beach and went into the Oyster Bar. I had a plate of 6 oysters , a glass of Murphy Goode sauvignon blanc and a portion of a loaf of warm bread. Bill came to $22 with tax so I used my $25 certificate and put a couple of extra dollars in to make the tip larger. The person working the oyster bar was great. He found nice, fat oysters for me. I had 6 different types and they were all good. Plumb and juicy. I like my oysters fairly plain. Just a little lemon or lime and a touch of mionette sauce. I'm into the briny taste and all the different types have different levels of sweetness and brine.

So the certificate is used, I had a good meal and I don't need to stress out anymore about using the damm thing before the expiration.

Chateau St. Michelle Wine Dinner

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A small local restaurant held a wine dinner tonight. Sabastiani's,, The menu looked good so Toby & I signed up for it. I have been to this establishment several times and the food can be a hit or miss.

When I walked in I saw Kyle Twitchwell, the rep for Chateau St. Michelle there. I had met him before so it was good to see him again. I will say that Sebastiani's is very generous with their pours and the portions on the food.

Bread was served to half the people and the rest of us had to wait until new loaves came out of the oven. I know they like fresh bread but waiting 10 to 15 minutes for bread is beyond my scope.

First course was "Coza Al Forno", baked New Zealand mussels with a ginger-garlic butter. The dish was nice. It was served with 2005 Chateau St. Michelle Semillon. It was a good pairing and this wine was very good. Clean & crisp.

Second course was "Canelloni di Aragosta", petite canellonis filled with ricotta cheese, red bell peppers and lobster. The sauce was a shallot cream sauce with melted mozzarella. The wine was 2006 Chateau St. Michelle "Canoe Ridge" chardonnay. The canellonis were made with lasagna noodles but when they cooked then, apparently they did not put foil over the pan so the tops were a little crispy and I found it a little tough to cut. I do not like tough pasta. The filling was very good and the sauce was excellent. This could had been a superb dish with just a little more care. The chardonnay was a little on the oaky side and that is not my thing. I will say that the sauce on the canellonis cut the oakiness out of the wine and it did pair very well.

Third course was "Pepperoni Ripene", stuffed red bell peppers with ground lamb, golden raisins and basil with a "delicate" pink sauce. I think the sauce had red bell peppers in it to give the sweetness and the color. This was paired with 2004 Chateau St. Michelle "Orphelin" red blend. My take on this dish - the peppers would have been better served after perhaps roasting the skin over an open flame before stuffing them. This would have added a smokiness and sweetness to the pepper and also would have made them more tender. I found mine was to much "al dente". But the lamb filling did not pair well with the wine unless you had some of the pepper with it. The Orphelin wine is a blend of 9 grape varietals. Mostly grenache and syrah. I has had this wine before and I like it. This wine was the only one I bought. Toby and I split a case so it brought the price down to less than $14 a bottle.

Last course was "Vitello Saltimboca", veal scalopine with prosciutto, sage and a veal demi-glaze with a little cabernet. This was served with the 2005 Chateau St. Michelle "Indian Wells" cabernet sauvignon. My time this dish came out I was beyond full, I has one bite to the veal with the sauce so I could see how it paired with the wine. It was a decent pairing but not as good as the 3 other courses.

I wish they would have served one canelloni instead of two, a smaller stuffed bell pepper and one slice of veal instead of two. The portions are very generous, but too much. If they would have had smaller portions then perhaps they could have put in a small desert. It would have topped the meal off. I took my entire last course home with me.

The seating at Sebastiani's is "festival". We were at a table with 3 couples. The man sitting next to me was quite "interesting". He was telling me the wines that he buys and that he does not pay more than $10 for a bottle. Your "grocery store" wino. He had an interesting look on his face when I told him the majority of my wines were in the $40 range. Toby told him that once he drank a really good wine he would not want his $10 wines. I don't think it made any impression on him. But it takes all kinds.

Monthly Gathering of The Winos

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The theme for this months wine gathering was "Wines of Spain & Portugal". It had rained this morning so the weather was on the cool side and the event was held outside But we had our wines "to keep us warm". Out of 15 wines brought, 4 were from Portugal. I found that interesting. Maybe because Spanish wines are more available and I do know some people will not put out the extra $ to get a quality wine from Portugal. There were a couple of older wines from Spain, a 1991 & 1994. Older wines are always interesting. One of there was on the "over" side but the other was drinking quite well

We had one sparkling and one Port. There was a 2005 Alto Moncayo, Granacha from Spain that was quite good and I felt that the 2004 Qinta Vale d. Maria, Duoro from Portugal which I brought, was very good also. None were bad, some just better than others. I wasn't overly fond of the whites. None of them knocked my socks off, but I am a "red" wine drinker.

I added several new grape varietals to my quest. I haven't added my list lately but I think I am up to 160 varietals of grapes tasted. I'm pushing for the 200 mark.

So another "wino" gathering bites the dust. Next up in June will be Red & White Bordeaux's.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This was my third Sake tasting at Wine Country in Signal Hill,, . I was looking forward to another information packed evening but "all good things come to an end" . Not only was the rep from the importer lacking in something so was Wine Country's host. No energy or enthusiasm. I was extremely disappointed this year. The only information we received was when we asked a question. No literature was available. No pictures, no nothing except Sake. They did bring out some packets of rice that shows how they mill it for Sake but no one bothered to elborate on it. Since I had done the two previous tasting I knew what it was about but I would think that other people in the audience would like to know some technical information.

Even the food was "blah". In the past two years they have always had small "bites" to pair with each Sake. This year it was the "old standard" cheese and crackers. No imagination at all.

The Sakes for the most part were good. 5 were on the list and then there were 2 additional Sakes brought out to try. One had a very distinct plum taste to it and I really enjoyed it. The only Sake of the evening that I could have done without was the Isizuchi Shirouma Nigori. This was an unfiltered Sake but it had so much residue in it the glass looked like I had drank some pear nectar and I did not particularly like the taste. I have has unfiltered Sake before but not like this.

The two that I really enjoyed the most were the Kizan Sanban Junmai Gingo priced at $27 and the Ishizuchi Shinsei Daiginjo priced at $95.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bloomingdale's Wine Tasting

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloomingdale's at South Coast Plaza had a "Savvy Summer Style" event tonight. Billed at a wine & food pairing with an "entertaining" segment. It was $25 and seating was limited. I estimated that there 50 people in attendance. I arrived with just 5 minutes to spare. Almost 1-1/2 hour to get there from my work. I encountered fire trucks, paramedics, overturned cars, looky loo traffic etc., going down the freeway. When I turned into the parking lot at South Coast I encountered, fire truck, paramedics and an accident. Just wasn't my day.

My friend Margie had saved me a seat at the table. I will say the setting was nice. The organization of the event left an awful lot to be desired. A "celebrity event stylist" was there to tell us how to give parties. You can tell her clients have money. I don't spend that much in a year for events at my house much less one event.

The winery tonight was "St. Francis" from Sonoma. These are middle of the road wines by they are quite acceptable drinking. They did a food pairing with the wines. The first was 2006 Chardonnay which did go well with the salad because it had bacon and cheese in it. The next two wines were a Merlot and Cab which they paired with a piece of beef on a soggy round of bread.

The fourth wine was the winner of the evening, 2005 "Old Vines" Zinfandel. The vines are 128 years old. This was a big fruit bomb and balanced well. Unfortunately they served this with a Chinese Chicken Salad, what can I say. Chocolate would have been more appropriate.

I did talk with one of the Bloomie's employees that seemed to be somewhat in charge and Chris Silva from St. Francis Winery about the wine and food pairing. They did not bring out bread until half way through the tasting. I've never been bashful when it comes to stating my opinion and I will say that they seemed very interested in what I had to say.

Margie & I were paired up with 2 other females. Neither had much going for them upstairs. I would say that 90% of the people attending knew nothing about wine and really were not interested in learning anything. They were there to eat and drink and be seen.

We did receive a $25 gift card from Bloomingdales which made the tasting free. Now I just have to find something that is $25 at Bloomie's.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Belacan Malaysian Grill

Saturday, May 10, 2008

CJ's Wine & Dine group met tonight at the Belacan Malaysian Grill in Redondo Beach. This was the second time we have visited this restaurant. The menu is always pre-ordered. I will say that the dinner last year was much better than this year. The food is good but the choices this year left me wondering.

Everyone brought their bottle of wine. Seeing as there were basically two tables for dining it is not the easiest to keep track of the names., otherwise I would be doing nothing but writing information down and not eating, and that is not going to happen. I brought a 1990 Domaine de la Fontainerie, Vouvray. It went perfectly with spicy food. There were some very nice wines on the table including a couple of Melville Pinot Noirs, a nice Petit Syrah from Lodi and an interesting sparkling Gerwuztraminer. A Towmey Merlot was good.

The evening started out with a Roti Canai - crispy flat bread with curry dipping sauce and Malaysian Curry Puffs, which are like an empanada. Pastry filled with spicy potato chicken curry. These are always a big hit with everyone.

Char Kway Teow - Malaysian stir-fried flat rice noodles with chicken, shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts and chives in a spicy dark soy sauce was served next. This dish was the hit of the evening. Very flavorful. I could have eaten the entire serving for the table myself and forgone the rest of the meal

Next plate out of the kitchen was Lamb and Chicken Satay. Everyone raved about the lamb but the skewer that I had is seemed to me to be a bit tough and way overcooked. The chicken was good and the peanut sauce was very good.

Coconut rice was served but they only brought one container for 16 people. By time they brought more out you lost interest. I did not have any of this dish as I am now a big white rice fan, I grew up on potatoes and noodles so rice to me is no big deal. Everyone else seem to like it. The finally brought another container out.

The next dish left everyone wondering - Sambal Okra - Okra stir fried with dried shrimp in house special shrimp sauce. I like okra personally, but this was spicy and somehow wasn't the big hit of the evening. I had about 5 large pieces of the okra and I just couldn't get into it. I had some Vouvray left in my glass and it did pair well along with some of the other white wines but by time this dish came out we were on red wine which did not blend with this dish at all.

The Daging Kicap Manis (soy glazed beef) - tender cuts of beef sauteed with onions and spices in a sweet thick soy glaze. This dish also was very good.

Then a bowl of vegetables was brought out. Why they did not served these earlier I don't know.
Vegetables and tofu simmered in a rich coconut milk curry gravy. This will make the vegetarians in the group happy. I did not taste this dish so I have no comments on it.

Something was passed around for a dessert. I took one small spoonful. It was tasty, whatever is was but I wasn't impressed enough to write it down and it was not on the menu that we had.

No dinner next next month as CJ will be on vacation and the July dinner falls on the same day as a wine & food fundraiser that I attend every year, so I will not be attending a Wine & Dine function until August.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Benley Wine Dinner

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

This restaurant had been recommeded to me by Gina at MAWL Wines. Always on the lookout for small ethnic places with little or no corkage. Benley's fit the bill.

Five of us met at 7:00 tonight. I had downloaded the menu from and had several items marked that I was intertested in trying. Seems Zagat is out of date. Three items Benley's did not have on their menu. We did find out later from the owner that if we call ahead they would make them up special for us.

We started out with Shrimp & Pork Eggrolls (cha gio) - very tasty, they had a hint of mint and the spicy sauce they served with them was excellent. The size was good also. In addition we had Panko Breaded Shrimp (dijon aioli tom chien don) served with a mustard aioli sauce. The shrimp were good size and fresh. Both of these dishes were very good. We had a bottle of 2000 Merry Edwards, Meredith Vineyards, Russian River Valley, Sparkling Cuvee and a bottle of 2005 Domaine Schlumberger Grand Cru Riesling. Both of these wines paired beautifully with the dishes.

Next came of couple of plates of Wok Sauteed Filet (beef) with potatoes and red onions (bo xao khoai tay). the meat was very tender, obviously a good cut of beef and the sauce was excellent.

A dish of Chicken Curry (ca re ga) and a plate of Salted Shrimps (tom rang muoi) were added to the table. The curry sauce was very light in curry flavor and the chicken was fork tender. The salted shrimp had the shell left on with the spices and salt encrusted on them It made for very flavorful shrimp meat.

With these dishes we added at bottle of 2003 Stolpman Angeli and a 2004 Loring Wine Co., Gary's Vineyard Pinot Noir. These wines went really well with the beef and the pinot paired well with the chicken.

One dessert was ordered a Melting Valrhona Chocolate ( banh chocolate). We all had a bit of it as it was very, very rich. The Stolpman Angels (Syrah) paired amazingly well with this dish.

Service was good, the place was packed on a Wednesday night with people waiting to get in (reservations make in advance are the only way). Prices are reasonable but not as cheap as the small Vietnamese places that seem to line the strip malls like donut shops and nail salons. Food is excellent so worth the extra dollar or so. Dinner for 5 with corkage at $5 a bottle and tax with tip came to $125

Benley's in is a strip mall on Wardlow Rd just west of Norwalk/Los Alamitos Blvd. The north/east corner at the very end of the strip mall.

8191 E. Wardlow Rd, Long Beach 90808 (562) 596-8130

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Moshin Wine Dinner

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Delius,, held a private wine dinner for their investors and Club Delius members. Limited to 25 people which really made it nice. The featured winery was "Moshin Vineyards", from the Russian River area in Sonoma.

I was not familiar with the particular winery but being in the Russian River area is was anxious to taste what was being offered.

Wine Country, was having a Moshin tasting that night also on their "commuter tasting". From 4:30 to 6:30 on Thursday evenings for $8 you taste 4 to 6 wines. I stopped for the commuter tasting since seating for dinner wasn't until 7:15 and I had time to kill. They did pour one wine that was not on the dinner menu and that was a Merlot which was quite nice. I met with the wine rep and Rick Moshin the owner and advised them that I was their dining companion for the evening. Better to give some heads up so they are over the shock before I sit down with them.

Upon arrival at Delius, I had to park on the street as the lot was full. Second time in a week I've had to do that. The parking lot holds 54 cars and its nice to see the placing so busy that you have to park on the street.

Dinner was held in Prixe Fixe dining area. I was seated at the table with Rick Moshin, his wife Amber and the sales rep from Truman Wines, Mike Ames.

The amuse bouche was a very smooth garlic infused hummus with pieces of toasted bread.

The appetizer came out and its was absolutely wonderful. Scallops with onion puree, pink grapefruit and served with 2006 Moshin Larrick Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. It was a perfect pairing of food and wine. The scallops were just like butter they were so tender.

Soup was the next to arrive, a Puree of Wild Mushrooms with truffle oil and parmesan crisps. It was sublime and paired extremely well with the 2006 Moshin, Molianri Vineyard, Pinot Noir.

First course was crisp duck breast with pink peppercorn sauce. Paired with 2006 Moshin, Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir. Another good match. Amber Moshin does not like duck and ate every piece of hers. She said she has never had duck cooked so well. Duck is one of my favorite things that Louise cooks at Delius. She really has a knack with the critter.

Main course was rack of lamb with red currant wine sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetable, served with a 2006 Moshin, Lot 4, Pinot Noir. Another excellent pairing.

Dessert was a black cherry Clafouti. Just the right touch for the end of dinner.

I was so full that I ate one rib of lamb and took the rest home for lunch the next day.

It was a great dinner and at the end Rick Moshin gave away T-shirts, hats, bottles of wine and I managed to get a wine opener to add to my collection. It was a very nice gesture for him to do this. Everyone likes to get a "freebie".

The motto at Moshin Vineyards is "It's not the size of your Pinot, its the Moshin". Quite clever play on words.

Again another great dinner at Delius and I'm really looking forward to the "German Wine Dinner" on May 30, 2008.

Four wine dinners on 2 weeks. I cannot get any happier.