Sunday, September 21, 2008
The monthly "Wine & Dine" group converged on "Dunarea Restaurant" in Anaheim tonight. This is a Romanian restaurant and is very popular with the ex-patriates. This was smaller group than normal, just 14 of us.
We started out with 5 appetizers. All of which are very good.
"Salata De Vinete" Roasted eggplant dip with onions.
"Delta" Caviar dip with olives and lemon. (my favorite)
"Shrimp Sole" sauteed shrimp.
"Cold Cut Plate" Salami, ham, kashkaval, feta cheese, olives, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Cornmeal (polenta) with feta cheese and sour cream.
"Sarmale In Foi De Varza" stuffed cabbage rolls filled with ground pork and beef. Excellent dish.
"Dunarea Salad" tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, egg & feta cheese with a Romanian dressing. I always pass this up because it comes so late in the meal (European custom) that I cannot handle the clash of flavors as by now I am on to red wine. Others enjoy it so it is a personal preference.
"Chicken Paprika" grilled chicken breast with dumplings and hot paprika sauce, served with sour cream.
"Grlled Salmon", grilled with spices, garlic and lemon.
We had many wines but I did not keep track of them. Of those that I liked, there was a 1999 bourgone, a Melville Pinot and I brought a 2000 Clos de Verges, Billard Gonnet Pommard Pemier Cru bourgone which I think had several more good years in it. Someone poured me a white burgundy which was nice and there was a "bubbly" which was good. Other than those I did not taste any of the other wines, except one that was a Cabernet and there was something wrong with the bottle.
4 of us dined this evening at Utopia, http://www.utopiarestaurant.net/, . The theme was Italian wines and the importer, Ciro Crillo was there. I will say Utopia gives you decent pours of wine and will give seconds if you request it. This is nice compared to some places where you get about a 2 ounce pour and they look at you strangely if you ask for a second pour. Utopia always sets out a basket of fresh, hot rolls which are very good. But they never seem to put enough butter with it.
First course was "Insalata di Riso" Italian risotto, Kalamata olives, garlic, pepperoncini, capers and tomatoes. I found this dish unusual and very good. It had the right amount of seasoning and paired excellent with a 2007 Terra Di Pra' Col Reale from Veneto. A blend of Cortese & Garganega. I really liked this wine and did buy 4 bottles.
Next was a "Pettine con fetaccini" Grilled scallops in a bed of light Alfredo fettuccine pasta. This was one of the best Alfredo sauces I have ever had. I'm not sure why but it was beyond excellent. The pasta was cooked just right. This dish was paired with a 2006 Collesanta Pinot Grigio from Veneto. The wine was good but not the same caliber as the first wine served.
Main course was "Linguine Del Mar" Linguine pasta with mussels, sea scallops, garlic, red bell pepper in a light pomodoro sauce. This dish was excellent. I did not care for the pairing of wine. A Lume Sangiovese Livio Innocenti Montalcino, Tuscany. Frankly I thought the wine was thin.
Dessert was "Espresso Amore", Italian gelato with raspberry sorbet. Served with a 2003 Agripeccioli Aureus Traminer Ice wine from Tuscany. Both were good on their own but I am not a sweet with sweet drinker. I would have preferred a savory or cheese item with the ice wine.
At $ 50 plus tax and tip this was excellent buy. Portions are small but filling and I was not hungry afterwards like I have been at another local restaurant which gets twice the price and I feel like I need to go through a fast food drive in to finish the meal. Needless to say I do not go back to that establishment.
Next up in October at Utopia is a Chilean Wine dinner. Looking forward to that one.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Delius Restaurant, http://www.deliusrestaurant.com/, held a wine dinner this evening. I had tasted Demetria , http://www.demetriaestate.com/, wines at the Malibu Wine Classic so I was looking forward to this dinner. I have done many dinners at Delius over the years and they are all good. A few have been over the top and this was one of them. The food was up several notches from their usual excellence. These wine special wines dinners seem to bring our such creative instincts in the chefs. Most of the food dishes at these special dinners will not be repeated and do not show up on the regular menu except for a very rare occasion.
I was seated at the table with Michael Roth, the winemaker at Demetria. Very personable person and a good dining companion. One of the nice perks about dining at Delius on these special wine dinners is that if you are a single diner they sit you at the table with the wine rep. There were 3 of us singles tonight. One person I knew and the other was new dining companion. We had a great dining experience and everyone seemed to have a really good time. Toby who usually joins us was dining with friends that night at another table.
Appetizer was a "Shrimp, Sage & Sweet Potato Ravioli, baby arugula with a balsamic reduction". The reduction was a perfect pairing with the ravioli. Could not have been better. This was served with a 2006 Demetria Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay. The grapes were sourced from the old "Ashley's Vineyard". The wine by itself had just a tad too much oak on it for me personally but when drank with the food they complimented each other. The oak was cut by the food and went very well with the dish.
The salad was "Braised Leeks, Mascarpone Sorbet, Red Pepper Foam & Basil Oil". The leeks were caramelized and all the flavors seemed to meld together. Each bite was perfect. The mascarpone sorbet was a very interesting touch and although it seems strange it was a perfect accompaniment to the leeks. This dish was served with a 2005 Demetria Papou (Rousanne & Viognier). Again another great pairing.
First course was "Roasted Duck Breast, Yukon Gold Potato & Brie Hash and Red Wine Veal Sauce". Louise is a master with duck and lamb and again this dish showed it. The skin was extra crispy and not a drop of fat was to be seen. The potato and brie hash was outstanding. Something I would bever had thought to put together. The wine was a 2006 Demetria Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. Again the grapes were sourced from the old Ashley's vineyard.
Main course was a "Thyme-Mustard Crusted Lamb Chops, Butternut Squash & Braised Shallots. The lamb was full of flavor and the crust was really well balanced with the squash and shallots. A 2005 Demetria Estate Cuvee Constantine was served with the lamb. This wine is a Red Rhone blend of Mouvedre, Grenache, Syrah & Viognier. This was the highest alcohol wine of the evening at 14.8%. It did not had the taste of a high alcohol content and again a very good pairing with the lamb.
We finished with a Chocolate Espresso Alomond Cake with Peppered Whip Creamd Raspberry Compote.
Demetria is closed to the public. I will be stopping in at the invitation of the winemaker when I am up in the area in October. There wines are available online and at Wine Crush in Long Beach and Hi-Times in Newport Beach. The wines are medium priced and I found that I liked them.
The dinner was a smashing success with me. Fantastic food and good wine. Yes it was a little pricey at $85 but the quality of the food is worth it. I would prefer to dine out a little less often and be able to thoroughly enjoy a dinner at this level. This is one of those dinners I will remember for a long time. Great food, good wine, good service and no one hovering over you table trying to get you to leave so they can seat another party. I do like the concept of "Prix Fixe" dinning.
These posting may be out of order as the computer has been down and I am behind. Somehow I missed this one.
There were 4 of us at dinner tonight. Utopia, www.utopiarestaurant.et, is a small restaurant in downtown Long Beach . There prices are reasonable and the food is good.
Tonight the wines were from the Sonoma area.
Appetizer was "Cheese Ravioli & Grilled Portabello mushrooms with sun-dried tomato cream sauce. Good flavor. Paired with 2007 F. Scherrer Rose.
Salad was Celery, cucumber, fresh thyme, shallot, sun-dried cranberry and roasted walnut in a lemon olive oil dressing. A different salad but the flavors went well together. Served with a 2006 Mutt Lynch Chardonnay.
Main dish was grilled lamb chops with fresh tarragon, garlic wine sauce, served with grilled asparagus and grilled tomatoes. I asked for my lamb chops to be medium rare which they did accommodate me. I find that their lamb here is a little to overdone for my taste. The dish was good and it was served with a 2004 Fieldstone Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dessert was a homemade dark chocolate tiramisu which was excellent. I;m also a big dark chocolate fan so its hard to screw this dessert up. They served it with a 2006 Homefire Cellars Zinfandel. A good pairing. Zinfandels, Cabernets and Merlots seem to pair well with chocolate.
This is probably the 5th of 6th fundraiser that I have attended for the ":Cure For Diabetes". This year it was held at "The Center" in Costa Mesa. The Lamborgini's and Ferrari's were in abundance again, along with the "beautiful" people. Silicon, botox and all.
It seemed like a smaller crowd this year and also the number of wine vendors seemed to be smaller. Maybe its the economy or the fact that everyone is having a "Food & Wine" fundraiser and expects all the wineries and restaurants to donate. There is only so much to go around and when these vendors are squeezed to much something does give.
I did pick up 2 more wine openers for my collection and 3 additional wine varietals to add to my list which is now at 176 varietals tasted.
The auction is always a good time at this event. With what the "Sea Smoke " pinot wines went for I have now decided I have a small fortune in my collection.
This months wine theme was Zinfandels over $20 and Pinot based Champagnes, sparklings or Rose's. August is too hot to drink high alcohol Zins, so it was a nice secondary theme that I really enjoyed.
The group was much bigger than last month. Zin's always bring them out. As I understand after I left a few more bottles were opened.
I do not do heat well so I did leave early.
Eight of us gathered tonight At Duong Son in Westminister (Little Saigon). I did take some notes but since Its been a month since the dinner (my computer has been down) I am not sure if I can read my own handwriting.
Basil Chicken (always a winner)
Roast Duck (their specialty)
Garlic fried green beans with shrimp (another staple for us)
Fried sea bass (a first and excellent)
Chow Mein Cluster (a first but not my favorite)
Beef Tendons with Turnips (I always like this dish)
Fried oysters with Ginger & Chives (another excellent favorite)
Ribs with sauce ( tastes like maple syrup is in the sauce-crispy and really good)
Green Bean Tapioca (tastes much better than it sounds)
Not your mothers Chinese food.
The wines tonight were all on the upside.
2006 AP Vin Turner Vineyard Pinot Noir
2005 Snowden, Napa Cabernet
2006 Torzi Matthews, Shiraz
2004 Chateau Margene Cabernet
2007 Stolpman Sauvignon Blanc
2004 Kangnilla Road Shiraz
2004 Kosta Browne Sonoma, Pinot Noir
2003 Domaine Schulmberger Riesling
2005 Roar, Santa Lucia, Pinot Noir
2003 McKeon-Phillips BPR Cabernet
These dinners are always good, the gathering tonight was a good group of people and the wines were on the up side. Can't wait until October for the next dinner.
Four of us headed down the highway towards the Santa Ynez Valley to have "Dinner In The Vineyard" at Stolpman's vineyard. This is the 3rd annual dinner and I have been to all. For once I had a designated driver so it was nice to be able to relax and leave the driving to someone else.
We arrived at the vineyards and the festivities were in full swing. We decided not to do the vineyard tour as we had done it before. After heading to the table with the wine we made a beeline to the appetizer table. After all it had been over 30 minutes since we had eaten at Clos Pepe. By time the bell sounded for dinner I was fully packed. I did put a very small amount on my plate and I had trouble eating that. What I did eat was very good. The beef was excellent, tender and full of flavor. The wines flowed freely,the band was playing and a couple of people did get up and dance
A friend my mine came up and said they were going to Patrick's Side Street Cafe later and wanted me to join them. I had to decline at I don't think I could out another bite into my mouth for the rest of the day and I was riding with other people so that would not have been too cool to exclude them.
The sun was starting to set and as there is no electricity at the vineyard it was time to leave. We let and went back to our hotel, sat around the pool and finished off a bottle of wine. A perfect ending to a perfect day. I am already looking forward to next year.
We left about 7:00 in the morning for the drive to Buellton (about 45 minutes above Santa Barbara). The wineries do not open until 10:00 for tasting and our arrival time at Clos Pepe was 1:00 pm.
We arrived in the town of Solvang a little early so we parked the car near the "Trio" tasting room and headed to the Christmas store. This store is open all year and devotes itself to Christmas ornaments and Nativity sets. I bought a few angel ornaments for the great-grandkids. Had their names painted on them. Kids are into things like that. Makes them feel special.
By time we messed around in the store Stolpman's wine tasting room was open. Stopped in and tasted a few new wines, and bought a mixed case of Stolpman wines. Our friends who we were going to meet a little later walked into the tasting room. It is interesting how we wino's gravitate to the "good" wines. Time was starting to catch up with us, so we boogied over to Trio and tasted wine there. These wines are made by Kris Curran and Bruno D'Alfonso. I will say for some reason I was disappointed in most of the wines that were poured that day. I will have to go in there again in October when I am in the area and take a second look at them. I have had their wines before and enjoyed them, so I'm not to sure of the off day.
It was time to leave for Clos Pepe as we were running a little late. We all piled into one car and headed down the highway towards Lompoc. Clos Pepe is between Buellton and Lompoc in the Sta. Rita Hills. Outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The party was in full swing when we arrived. Several people were there that I had not seen for awhile and I saw a few additional friends. After tasting the 2007 releases and making my futures purchase I headed for the table of library wines. This table is always packed with people. I like to taste the older wines so I can see how mine are aging without opening them. This release party is by invitation only and to qualify you have to be a long time allocation member and buy $500 or more of wine each year. Keeps the number of people low but makes for a great time. Also keeps the "free loaders" out
Inside the house (house is an understatement) they had a table full of older french wines. I tasted several but I was not taking notes so the only one I really remember was a 1988 Lafite Rothschild
They had a large table set up with cheeses and crackers. New West Catering was making gourmet pizzas in the outdoor pizza oven, along with great grilled shrimp and beef kabobs. I pigged out which was a mistake since we were all going to the Stolpman vineyard later in the day for "Dinner in The Vineyard".
About 4:00 pm we said our goodbyes and headed back into the Santa Ynez Valley to have dinner at Stolpmans.
Our host today decided his theme would be "Washington State" wines. This came about because his cousin has a small winery in the state of Washington and he wanted to feature her wines, "Basalt Cellars".
The weather was good and the group was on the small side, about 14 people, but it made for a very nice tasting. Sometimes when you get more that 20 wines it becomes a problem tying to taste everything before your palate leaves you.
The host today made a great pork loin with a raspberry/chipolte sauce. Gave it a thumbs up
Most of us even up in the spa and at least have legs and feet dangling into it. I really great day.