Sunday, March 29, 2009

Paella Shake Down

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I was invited along with a few other people to be a guinea pig for Paella. Remy has a new Paella pan and wanted to try is out before cooking for a larger crowd in October.

I will say it was a rousing success. She had chicken, spanish sausage, clams, shrimp and mussels in the dish along with vegetables.

We drank several bottles red wine before with a wealth of appetizers. When the Paella was ready I was stuffed. I did manage to get a sizable portion down. I drank a Clos Pepe Pinot Noir Rose with the Paella and it paired very nicely.

We had such a good time we have decided she needs to have another test run before the big party and we will be happy to be the guinea pigs again. After all practice makes perfect.

Jackson's Bistro

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I needed to deliver some wine to Stan (Should have a disguise), so we agreed to meet at a new restaurant that he & Karen were wanting to try in Hermosa Beach. Jackson's Bistro. The 2 hour parking limit gets to you but when you are in a beach town that's standard.

This was a small place but the food was very good. We ordered all starters and shared. So it was like a tasting menu. I did not keep notes but we had shrimp crostini, mushroom & leek ravioli, french onion soup, artichoke soup, duck, pot stickers and mushroom risotto with truffle oil and small pieces of beef and crab cakes. All the food was good and I would go back.

Stan brought 2 bottles of wine for the dinner. A 2007 Kosta Browne Keefer Pinot Noir and a Pride Cabernet. Both wines were execellent.

I did stop Saturday at a wine tasting in Tustin to try the 2007 Loring Keefer Pinot Noir. Loring was good, Kosta Browne excellent. Of course there is about $25 a bottle difference in price. It is interesting to see what different winemakers do with the same grape from the same vineyard. Of course they source from different areas of the vineyard so that can make a huge difference also.

Opolo Wine Dinner

Friday, March 27, 2009

Delius Restaurant hosted an Opolo Wine dinner tonight. As usual the menu was outstanding. This dinner had been sold out since December. Opolo has a very large following. Their wines are good and priced right.

As a single I was seated at the table with one of the wineries winemakers. This is always good as usually you can get an extra pour if there is something you really like. It has its advantages.

Appetizer was a pan seared scallop with roasted pineapple, thinly sliced fennel (which is the only food I dislike) and a lime beurre blanc sauce. Scallop was cooked perfectly. This was served with 1 2006 Opolo Central Coast Viognier. A perfect pairing. The Viognier was not too floral. Nice and clean and crisp.

Second course was a Cream of Parsnip soup with crispy prosciutto and a mixed herb pesto. I did not know what to expect with this but I was thoroughly taken with this soup. This was served with a 2005 Opolo Grand Rouge (blend) Again a great pairing,

Third course as pan roasted duck with dried cherries, toasted bricohe and micro arugula. Chef Louise is a master with duck and this did not disappoint me. The wine served was a 2005 Opolo Central Coast Pinot Noir. The winemaker went out to his car and brought in another wine , a Zinfandel, which he felt went with the dish a little better. To me it was a tossup.

Fourth course was Braised Pork Cheeks with Israeli cous cous, blackberry-red wine reduction, baby carrots, thyme & micro celery. I have never had pork cheeks before but it is now a definite favorite (along with braised pork belly). Its hard to describe how good this dish was.

Somewhere in here the winemaker went out to his car again and brought in an Opolo Petit Syrah and a dessert wine (zinfandel) to go with the Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble with English custard ice cream.

So a 5 course meal with top notch food, 7 wines for $85. Hard to beat. And of course we got inning to inning details of the winemakers son's baseball game by cell phone. His team won. A good evening.

A "Man's" Gourmet Dinner

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I was invited to participate in a dinner at a private residence. This was to showcase a 1964 Chateau Haut-Bages Monpelou Bordeax.

We were all asked to pick an entree from a menu from a local restaurant. Platters of cheese and crackers were served and various appetizers were passed

We started out with a non-vintage G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut Champagne and then one of the guests brought out a 1999 Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot, 1st Cru.

The wine was excellent. We all got about a 2 ounce pour as there were 11 of us present tonight.

Next the jerobom of the 1964 Bordeax was poured. We were all very surprised at the color and taste of this very old wine. There was no copper or age look to the color and the taste was surprisingly fresh. It stayed that way for well over an hour before it started to fall off. It was quite a treat.

I had selected the grilled porkchops for my entree. I was served 2 huge chops with mushroom risotto and vegetables,. I was so full from the appetizers that I ate 1/3 of one chop a few bites of risotto and took everything else home. I did pick the pork over the beef because I felt that the wine being served was so old that it might not be as big and bold as it was at a much younger age. I feel my decision was the right one for me.

We were then served 2 desserts with a 2002 Quady Essencia Orange Muscat. I drank my wine first then ate the desserts. I do not like sweet on sweet. I prefer my dessert wines served with a cheese plate.

The reason I have called this a "Man's" Gourmet dinner was that the men involved did no cooking. All the appetizers , cheese, crackers and dessert came from Trader Joe's. A little heating up of a few items and slicing some cheese was the preparation . They did arrange everything quite nicely on the plates. The entrees were from the Macaroni Grill and they were all good. Only a 5 minute drive to pick them up. I may start thinking of this concept next time I entertain.

Spanish Wines at Utopia

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's been a few months since I have been to Utopia for a wine dinner. The menu sounded interesting so 4 of us met in downtown Long Beach for tonight's dinner.

First course as "Mariscos Ceviche" fresh seafood with cilantro, garlic and tomatoes in a lemon olive oil dressing. This ceviche had a totally different taste to it that other ceviches I have had. It was really good and paired very well with the 2005 Vino Rosado Bargordi Granacha. Big rose and made a perfect pairing with the dish.

Next up was "Gambas al Ajillo", spicy shrimp in a brandy tomato garlic sauce served with dill-basmati rice. This dish was paired with a 2006 Vino Senorio Landibar Copage Tempranillo. Best wine of the evening. The dish was good and the pairing was also.

The "Almejas a la Murciana", littleneck clams in a sweet Spanish paprika olive garlic sauce served over a bed a linguine was presented next. The wine was a 2005 Vino Usoa De Bagordi Select Vintage blend ( Tempranillo/Merlot/Graciano/Granache). If any dush and wine was the weak spot it would be this one. It was good but didn't hold mt interest as the other 2 previous dishes.

Dessert was Homemade Bread Pudding with a 2005/2006 Vino Laudare Domium White Wine. It went well together as the wine was too sweet.

We missed the flamenco guitarist - apparently he quit a few days earlier so we had a female singing and playing the piano. Personally I would have liked it better with out the entertainment. It was too loud and conversation was difficult.

March's Monthy Wine Fest

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Today we "wino's" gathered in Santa Monica for our monthly soiree. I was just up here last Thursday for Lobster. Stan may get tired of seeing my face. Maybe I should start wearing a disguise.

The theme today was wines from the McLaren Vale (Australia). Since it was close to St. Patrick's day the seemed evolved around corned beef & cabbage. Even Henry (who is Chinese) made a dish featuring corned beef.

d'Arenberg wines seemed to take center stage today. There were 7 wines with the d'Arenberg label. All different. The top wine was a 100 point wine. A 2001 d'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz. There was a 2005 Tatachilla Cabernt Sauvignon that was very good. All the wines were good even the whites. The 2008 Mollydooker, The Violinist, Verdelho was a surprise. Verdelho is a Spanish grape but the Aussies's did quite well with it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lobster & More Lobster

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Received an e-mail from Stan indicating that he had gone diving the night before and was inviting me to dinner tonight. Never one to turn down an offer for lobster I headed to Santa Monica after work There were 8 at the table and lots of lobster. It was worth the 1-1/2 hour drive to get there. Traffic was horrendous. But what sacrifices we make when its something we really want.

The food was great, the company great and so were the wines. I'm always out of my league at Stan's but he tolerates my wines which to me are really good but compared to what else is on the table, what can I say.

Whites were predominate tonight.

NV La Parcelle Blanc de Noirs
2006 Domaine Fevre, Grand Cru, Les Preuses Chablis.
2005 Clos Pepe, Sta. Rita Hills, Chardonnay
2000 Mt. Eden Chardonnay
2006 Sine Qua Non, Autrement Dit, Grenache Rose - which paired extremely well with the lobster roe
2002 Pride, Mtn. Viney, Cabernet Franc (there was steak)
2004 Williams Selyem, Russian River, Heintz, Chardonnay
2006 Aubert, Ritchie Vineyard, Chardonnay
1985 Grahams Vintage Port

This was worth getting to bed at midnight and having to get up in the morning at 5:30am.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Duck & Botrytis

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Met with 6 friends at Duong Son BBQ Restaurant in Little Saigon (Westminister). This is a bi-monthly event for us and we cannot get enough of the food. Henry goes there every Friday night with a different group of his friends. The sure sign of a good ethnic restaurant is when you are the only non asian in the the place.

We started out with freshly made shrimp chips. Similar in texture and looks to a fried pork rind. But these are pink , large and very easy to eat. Pork rinds sometimes get a little tough and hard to bite.

Next came salt & pepper calamari. Very large pieces of calamari with a very light breading. These were so much better than the ones we had at the same restaurant when we came without Henry. There is a big difference in the quality when Henry is with us.

Out came a bowl with beef tendon. I know it sounds "awful", but it is one on the most tender pieces of meat with a great sauce. It takes many hours to cook the tendon until it is tender.

A platter of roast duck appeared and was devoured in no time . Duck is the specialty of Duong Son and it never disappoints us. On top of the duck was some long thin strips. It was some kind of fungi. Interesting. Nondiscript taste. I will try anything once.

The big hit was the huge scampi that was cut down the middle and cooked with garlic and a few other things that I don't know about. These prawns were at least 6 to 7 inches long and a lot of meat on them. They were so tender and succulent. This dish is only available at certain times of the year. And the prawns are very fresh. I could swear they were looking at me with their eyes (heads were attached) as I sucked on them.

Seabass with garlic green beans was served next. This again is always a very good dish. The fish is moist and tender and the beans have a little kick to them.

Our last dish was chicken with Chinese broccoli. Again always good.

For dessert we had fresh fruit, tapioca pudding (warm) and some kind of sticky bun.

The wines tonight were a mixed lot: NV Charles B Mitchell, Blanc de Noir, Sparkling. 2005 Domiane Schulmnerger Reisling, 2003 Giradet Chardonnay, 2005 Ken Brown, Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay, 1999 Hafner Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 Cardwell Hill Pinot Noir, 2001 Rosenthal, Malibu Coast, Motor Canyon Meritage, 2005 Hug, Cedar Lane Pinot Noir, 2003 Green Point Shiraz .

The big hit of the evening was my 1975 Monterey Vineyard, Gonzales, Sauvignon Blanc, Botyrtis. This was bottle given to me by someone who was cleaning our their cellar and was throwing some bottles away. She said I could have them and I got 5 bottles of dessert, port and sherry. I did not know if this bottle was drinkable or not. When it was opened I said it was either going to be so bad we will dump it of it is going to be something really outstanding. It was so good. Deep caramel color and its was so clean. It was a beautiful wine. There was not a drop left in the bottle. Thank you Toby for cleaning out your cellar. I will take your rejects any time.