Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ante's Croatian Restaurant

Saturday, October 10, 2009

CJ's Wine & Dine group met tonight at Ante's in San Pedro. We have dined here many times before. The food seems to be a mix of many cultures, Germanic, Italian , Greek and the Baltic countries.

We started out the the "Antipasto" platter - salami, ham, cheese, pickled carrots, radishes, celery etc. I only eat the meats and cheese. I find everything else does not come close to pairing with wine so why screw up my palate for something I can do without.

Next we were served "Sauteed Shrimp and Sauteed Calamari Steak". The garlic butter sauce is to die for. Best with hunks of bread soaked in it. Both of these dishes were excellent. There were a couple of white wines that paired perfectly with these dishes.

We were then served a "Dalmatian Salad". Just lettuce with a few other things in it. I passed on the salad. It had a vinaigrette dressing and unless you have a very low acidic wine you cannot drink a wine with this and have a "wine & food" experience.

The entrees served were "Cevapcici" - seasoned mince meat shaped into kebab rolls and served with raw onion. This is CJ's favorite dish. I find that is a tab too dry for me. I will eat one or maybe half but I am a "just this side of dead" meat person and meat cooked dry simply does not appeal to me. And the raw onions are another wine turnoff.

"Sarma" was served - seasoned ground beef and rice rolled in cabbage leaves. It had a very light tomato sauce on it and this is one of my favorite dishes. I had "cabbage rolls" a lot growing up and I suppose it might be said that it is "comfort food" for me. I just missed the potatoes that we always had with cabbage rolls.

Bowls of "Kisell Kupus" were put on the table. Sauerkraut, pork, sausage and vegetables. I have always liked this dish because they cook the sauerkraut dry. But I had a hard time finding "vegetables" in this dish and very little sausage.

Lastly bowls of "Mostacciolli" were served. One with a meat sauce and one with garlic, olive oil and bay shrimp. There is nothing great about these dishes, but nothing negative also. To me they were "fillers".

All the "entrees" seemed to pair well with a variety of the red wines. There were at least 24 wines on the table and by reason of "sanity" I need not try them all. After all I had to navigate the "Vincent Thomas" bridge, downtown Long Beach, Belmont Shore, Naples, Seal Beach and Sunset Beach to get home. All popular places for "Johnny Law" to hang out.

A good group this evening but one of the earliest Wine & Dine dinners endings. Most of us were out the door around 9:00 pm. Some of the die hards were going to a another local "watering hole" to prolong the evening.

Next month The Wine & Dine group meets at my favorite Chinese place - Doung Son.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chinese Again

Saturday, October 3, 2009

We made another trip to Doung Son in "Little Saigon" in Westminister. Since I did not take any notes with this dinner I am going by my memory. The food I remember the wine I am very sketchy on.

"Garlic Prawns" - very large prawns split in half an cooked with a heavy duty garlic sauce. As always, very good.

Duck Two Ways - Roast duck with "pillows" for peking duck and then mixed with rice noddles and other mysterious ingredients and wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Fred Tofu with a vegetable sauce.

Chow Mein - a new dish for me. Nancy requested a dish with "crisp noodles". It was interesting, had a sauce with mushrooms on it. I would eat it if it was ordered again but I would not specifically ask for it.

Sauteed baby pea shoots. We had this at the last dinner and this dish I did ask for. Very light delicate taste.

Beef with Chinese broccoli.

Desserts were a "seaweed" tapioca pudding, fresh cantaloupe, fresh Jack fruit and because it was the "Harvest Moon" we were served a special cake that they make only once a year for this event. It was very good.

I did bring a 2003 Sea Smoke Botella which was showing very well. There was a Silverado Cab, a Tempranillo, 2 Chardonnays, a Sauvignon Blanc, a 2007 Loring Rancho La Vina Pinot and a Ken Brown Pinot. This is all from memory so I don't remember the years or some of the labels. All the wines were good and everyone had a good time which is a "given" when we dine at Duong Son. Hopefully we will get another dinner in before the end of the year.

La Parolaccia Osteria

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

There is this small Italian restaurant in Long Beach that has great food and a couple of owners that are as "mad" as I am. La Parolaccia Osteria. (the name means "dirty words"). It has been quite awhile since I have attended a wine dinner there.

One of the nice touches about this particular place is that the owners are hands on and that they always give prizes out at their wine dinners. Usually from 6 to 10, including T-shirts, aprons and bottles of wine. I managed to score a nice bottle of Italian wine this evening.

The restaurant usually has a wine rep at dinner but tonight Stephan and Nick were winging it. They decided to do a dinner with their favorite wines. Some pairings work and some did not.

Appetizer was "Crostini de ricotta e cotto" - Toasted bread with a mousse of ricotta cheese, Italian ham and anchovies. The wine paired with this dish was a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Monteschiavo. This wine was similar to a Sauvignon Blanc and it did pair well with the appetizer.

Next up was "Ditaloni alla Viareggina" - Large tube pasta with Manila clams, black mussels, light broccoli cream sauce with roasted bell peppers. For some reason I had in my mind the seafood would have the shells on which was not the case. I think it would have made for a much better presentation. Messier to eat. This was a generous portion and by time I finished I felt that it should be the end of the meal. The wine was a Orvieto Campogrande, Antinori. A white wine that seemed to be softer in style than the previous wine and I did like it better.

Third dish was "Insalata di patate e cipolle" - Potato salad with red onions, black olives and oregano. This is the third starch we were served. It was overkill. I did not finish this dish. Flavor was good but I think I would have preferred the potatoes to be on the warm side to bring out the other flavors more. This is where the wine pairing went down the tubes. It was served with a Neprica Tormaresca, Antinori. It clashed with the food. I did have some of the Orvieto left and it was a much better pairing.

Main dish was "Ossobuco di cinghiale con polenta" - Wild boar ossobuco, cooked in red wine with vegetables and polenta. The polenta was formed then either baked or lightly fried, which is the way I like it. The boar was good. The meat was slightly dry but that is the way boar is. It does not have the "fat" that a domestic pig has. Flavor was good and the whole dish was done well. This was paired with a Lacrima di Morro, Monteschiavo. A red wine from Puglia. I felt the first red , the Neprica went better with this dish. The Lacrima was not as well balanced wine as the Neprica and it had a washed out back palate.

Dessert was "Soffici di fichi" - A puff pastry filled with figs and Sambuca. I am not a big "fig" person but this was a well made dish. I had 2 bites and took the rest home. The starches were starting to really get to me.

I truly wished that they had substituted one of the starch dishes with a vegetable dish of some type.

The dinner was fun and on the whole good. Hopefully I can do the next dinner they have which should be before the end of the year. The dining room was closed to sold out for the dinner. The other dining area had a huge group of about 20 people (noisy) and the third dining area was busy all night. The price of $50 for the wine dinner has something to do with it. For a Tuesday night they should be happy with the turnout. A lot of restaurants in town should so lucky.