Saturday, May 16, 2010
CJ's Wine & Dine group met tonight at Franco's Italian Restaurant in Cypress tonight. There were 25 in attendance. The larger amount of people tonight probably was due to the fact that it was CJ's birthday.
Along with the bread basket with a garlic spread and oil & balsamic vinegar we started with 5 appetizers.
Bruschetta: fresh tomatoes, red onions, black olives and basil pesto on toasted bread. I passed on this dish. I just had the bread basket.
Fried Zucchini: fresh, breaded, served with Franco's marinara sauce. I passed on this also. Fried zucchini is nothing special.
Stuffed Mushrooms: stuffed with crab and topped with mozzarella then baked. This dish was good .
Crispy Crab Cakes: fresh crabmeat prepared with sliced peppers and onions, breaded with homemade bread crumbs and served with tomato, onion, roasted pepper and olive relish. OK , I guess I am old fashioned but I like my crab cakes the traditional way. These cakes were good but I could do without the relish. It seemed to over shadow the crab.
Gnocchi al a Sorrentina: Potato dumplings in a garlic pesto sauce. Good flavor and a nice dish. I would order this dish again.
Next we were served the Italian Zucchini Soup which I had had a few weeks back when a few of us dined at Franco's. Creamy zucchini soup made with Italian herbs and a dash of jalapeno pepper. I'm glad I saved some bubbly and white wine for this dish. This is a good soup but leave the red wine alone for this one.
The entrees were served .
Risotto with Spinach & Sausage: For me this dish could have been just plain Risotto, maybe with the spinach. It did not need the sausage. If I was ordering this dish on its own then the sausage but not as 1 of 4 entrees. It was overkill. This should have been served as a side dish.
Salmon Franchese: salmon dipped in a light batter, sauteed with garlic, lemon, herbs, olive oil and white wine. A very good dish. I just wished I had room for more of this. I had a very small piece.
Steak Diane: tender grilled top sirloin topped with mushrooms and a red wine sauce. This has always been a good dish at Franco's. I had 2 small strips of the steak which was cooked just the way I like my meat. Red.
Penne: with a tomato cream sauce. I passed on this dish. I do not need pasta with risotto
They brought out a birthday cake for CJ and a tray of macaroon cookies were passed.
With over 25 wines on the table I only tasted a few. I brought and Italian Pigato (white) and a 2004 Loring, Clos Pepe Vineyard, Pinot Noir . There was a 2005 Sea Smoke Botella also. I tasted the Botella and frankly I was disappointed in the quality of the wine. Perhaps it was just that particular bottle. I have some Botella in my cellar so I will have to try a bottle and compare. I felt the Loring was far superior. There were a few whites wines but the reds dominated. I did pick up 2 more new wine varietals for my list which is now at 239 different varietals of wine tasted. I am shooting for the 300 mark.
Personally I would have left off the Bruschetta & Fried Zucchini appetizers and the Penne pasta. We had too much starch/carbs and they fill you up fast. I could have enjoyed my entrees more if there had been a few less dishes served. As it was I did not try 3 of the dishes and I was still too full to have more than very, very small portions of the entrees. The restaurant also seemed to get the appetizers out very fast, They were all on the table about the same time. Then there was a big lull before the soup arrived then another big lull before the entrees started. So the amount of food was overkill for me but there were several really big eaters in the crowd and they seemed to devour everything I passed on. Not a lot of leftovers So a good time was had by all and the birthday boy shined.
Next month Ante's a Croatian restaurant in San Pedro is scheduled.