Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hartford Court Wine Dinner

Friday, June 27, 2010

Delius Restaurant hosted a Hartford Court Wine dinner this evening. Jeff Ward from Regal Wines, the distributor and Margaux Pierog from Hartford Court were in attendance. Both young, very personable people.

Hartford Court makes a variety of Pinots along with Chardonnay and Zinfandel mainly in the Sonoma, Carneros areas.

Things started off slower than usual in getting the food out. Delius was busy tonight and they had a small disaster in the kitchen. Seems they couldn't find the Himachi that was to be served with the first course. After a few minutes the first course arrived tableside.

Pan Seared Scallop with Gingered Cured Himachi, Meyer Lemon Caviar and Pistachio foam. The scallop was cooked to perfection and the flavors married extremely well with the 2007 Laura's Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. The Chardonnay was a tad oaky for my taste but the oakiness went away after they wine warmed up a little and the scallop was eaten. Sometimes oaky works for me if it is not overwhelming.

Second Course - Duck Confit Ravioli, Brunoise of Mireproix, Smoked Mushroom Broth and Dried Cherry Gelee. Served with a 2006 Laura's Edge Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast.. Very good pairing and the smoked mushroom broth was to die for. It had such intense flavor. My bowl was dry when the waitstaff took it away.

Third Course - Spice Rubbed Port Tenderloin, Manchego-Potato Galette, Cardamon Scented Baby Carrots, & Pan Jus. This dish was paired with 2006 Sevens Bench Vineyard Pinot Noir. The wine was outstanding and again another great pairing by Dave.

Fourth Course - Pan Roasted Lamb Loin, Oven Dried Teardrop Tomato and Currant Cous Cous, Braised Parsnip, Micro Arugula and Demo-Glace. Good lamb altho I personally prefer the chops or rack. The Cous Cous had excellent flavor and the parsnips added that small touch of sweetness. Wine was a 2006 Hartford Zinfandel, Russian River Valley. This again was a very good pairing.

Dessert was interesting. I did notice some people not finishing theirs but I downed mine. A Chilled Passion Fruit Soup with Yogurt Honey Spheres. The flavor of the "soup" was fresh and clean with just a touch of sweetness and the Yogurt Honey Spheres busted in your mouth and let out such a good flavor. Yes it was different but I felt the flavor was very good. I think you could use this "soup" as a starter for dinner. It wasn't overly sweet and it was refreshing.

I feel this dessert was a little on the cutting edge and not everyone is ready for this new style of cooking. But I am always game to try new and interesting things. Some are winners and others are not, but until you taste something how do you know if you will like it or not. People have such a preconceived idea of what they like and don't like they are never willing to break away from their very small, confined comfort zone and venture into unknown territory. My theory is try it once, if you don't like it there is no law that says you have to eat it again. But if you never try how do you know ?

Sans Liege Winery Tasting

Thursday, June 27, 2010

Brix Wines in Sunset Beach hosted a tasting from "Sans Liege Winery" from the Paso Robles area. This was a new name for me. Mike Ames, the distributor had mentioned it to me when I did the DeRose tasting a few weeks back.

I stopped in at Brix on my way home after work. Fortunately there were not crowded yet and the music entertainment of the evening had not started.

Les Jeunes Rose, a bend of Grenache & Mouvedre. This was an interesting Rose, the Mouvedre was slightly more prominent and this wine was clean and refreshing.

Cotes de Coast White blend, Viognier, Roussanne & Marsanne. Rhone whites are a tug of war with me. I was glad the Viognier had the predominant role in this wine. I feel this wine was definitely a food wine.

Call to Arms, a blend of Grenache Blanc and Rousanne. Again I was glad that the Grenache Blanc was predominant, I am beginning to be a big fan of Grenache Blanc's and as it becomes more well known I think a lot of people will also.

Groundwork Grenache - 100% Grenache. I really liked this wine. It had an interesting cinnamon taste to the finish.

The Phophetess NV, blend of 2 different years of Syrah and Mouvedre . I know some people who would really like this wine. It was good but not quite my thing. It was a big wine which I usually like but there was something about the finish that did not grab me. Nothing wrong with the wine just my personal taste.

Everyones palate is different which is good because there are some many wineries anymore I think it is impossible to keep up with all the new ones. I was glad to have the opportunity to taste these Sans Liege wines.

Spaghettini Wine Tasting

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spaghettini Grill & Jazz Club ,, had their first wine tasting of the year tonight. $25 for 15 wines and light appetizers. From 5:30 to 7:30 .

I arrived about 6 o'clock which after the evening was over I decided if I attend the next event to take off work early and get there at 5:30. Appetizers go fast and about 7:00 they do not put any more out. Also some of the wines disappeared before I got to taste them. Also the parking because annoying which has always been an issue with this establishment. 10 years ago it was a problem and nothing has changed. It is a very popular place and a middle age pick up place.

The pours very more than generous. I was very surprised at how big the pours were. At that rate you never be able to taste all the wines this evening which I did not. I did drink the 3 bubblies that were offered, 2 Chardonnays which I got rid of because they were too oaky for me, a Sauvignon Blanc and 3 reds. Maybe their thought is pick and chose what you want to drink and we will give you a generous serving, instead of try all 15 wines tonight.

The appetizers were good but don't expect it to be your dinner. The wines tonight came from Chalone Vineyards, Newton, Provenance and Rosenblum. The bubblies were Chandon Rose, Imperial by Moet & Chandon and Veuve Cliquot .

Next tasting is Wednesday June 30 and they will be featuring Chateau Ste Michelle.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Chinese Restaurant

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Alas, our favorite Chinese restaurant , Duong Son, has closed. Very suddenly.

We tried a new place tonight called "Capital Seafood" in Garden Grove. They also have places in Rowland Heights, Monterey Park and Las Vegas.

We were used to getting top notch treatment at Doung Son and now we are the "common folk". Some of the dishes we ordered were good and I would go back again. My biggest problem was they brought almost all the food out at once. We are used to having one dish presented and when we finished have another one appear. Tonight some of the dishes got cold before I got to them. They also did not offer to exchange the plates after a few courses and the small plates started to get messy. The paper napkins were cheaper quality. The atmosphere is better and the restaurant is larger. But then they are busier. So busy that they whisked away my plate without asking first if I was finished, I do not think they are used to a group of 8 people that had 9 bottles of wine on the table. We enjoy dining and having good wine and take several hours to finish a meal. This establishment is about "being fast". Get them "common folk" in and out.

Tonight we had Peking Duck which was good.

Ribs Peking, too bony and not enough meat.

Cashew Chicken - good flavor but you had to look twice for the cashews.

Pea sprouts, small , good flavor but not Doung Son's

Tofu with a sauce. A guess it was good. Other people at the table said so. But it was not like what I am used to getting.

Sauteed Shrimp with vegetables. This dish was good, The shrimp were cooked perfectly along with the vegetables.

Sauteed green beans with garlic. Beans were overcooked.

Beef Chau Fun - beef with wide noodles.This dish was good. Meat was tender and the taste was very good.

The wines that we had tonight were a wide mix.

2004 Loring Close Pepe Pinot Noir
2008 Sherwood, Pinot Noir
2008 Clos Pepe Rose of Pinot Noir
NV Riesling ( I could not read my writing to decipher the label)
2005 Bridlewood Winners Circle Syrah
2009 Walter Hansel Russian River Sauvignon Blanc
2004 Victor Hugo Petite Syrah
NV Wegeler Sparkling Riesling
2006 Byron Brut Chardonnay

DeRose Wine Tasting

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Delius restaurant hosted a wine tasting this evening. DeRose is a winery in the central coast of California near Hollister www.DEROSEWINERY.COM, They make wine from grapes sourced in California and also make wine in Argentina & Chile.

6 wines and passed appetizers for $25. Not a bad deal.

I have tasted DeRose wines before and they are all good especially with the price point.

Tonight we had :

Shark Nose Chardonnay - had a aroma of a Sau Blanc with the tropical fruit but had a very distinct green apple taste. A semi dry wine with great fruit. A very clean, nice, crisp wine. At $10 a bottle I bought a few. And we all know what I think about California Chardonnays.

Sur de los Andres Torrontes - an Argentinian wine. Another clean crisp wine but I preferred the Chardonnay.

Sur de los Andres Bonarda from Argentina. A good everyday drinking wine that would marry well with barbeque or pizza.

Sur de los Andres Malbec Reserva - This was a complex, well balanced wine.

DeRose Alchemy from Chile. A blend of Cab, Cab Franc, Syrah and Carmenere. The grapes for this wine are hand picked, berry by berry. Labor intensive so that is why it is made in Chile instead of California. This wine is not produced each year, only very good years and is aged 24 months in oak barrels before bottling. At $14 a bottle how can you not buy some, which I did.

Continental Cabernet - a blend of Cabernet Pfeffer, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. What can I say. This wine won me over. At $15 a bottle it was a must have. I have paid a lot more for some wines and not have them hold a candle to this one. Good mouth feel, soft tannins, very approachable and a damm good wine. So obviously I bought some of this wine also and should have bought more that I did.

DeRose is a winery that we should all look at more closely. Its not a "cult, have to have it wine" but for the price point and the quality you get it is well worth a second and third look. And you will probably enjoy it more than that $80 must have to have wine that seems to turn out to be a bit overrated.

May Gathering of The Wino's

Sunday. May 16, 2010

Today's theme was Brunello's and Barolo's. I was surprised at the number of people that showed up because of the theme. These wines are not cheap and a few of the "wino" have a hard time with a wine that costs more than $20.

I did not find that much difference in the wines for each category. All the Brunello's seemed very similar as did the Barolo's. The big difference seemed to be in the aging. Henry gave me two partially empty bottles when I left and the next day I poured out of a bottle that had been sitting open for about 24 hours. It was a 2001 La Magia Brunello di Montalcino and the difference on the taste overnight was interesting. The wine seemed more alive and much better balanced. So the moral is open these types of wines at least 24 hours ahead of time, decant, abuse them and return to the bottle just before serving.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May Wine & Dine at Franco's

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.

Charity Dinner

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Attended a fund raising dinner this evening hosted by friends. This was called "Moveable Feast" and was conceived to raise funds for the LA Mission. You host a dinner at your home and everyone who attends gives a donation to the Mission. Our hosts made it a "Cinco De Mayo" celebration with a Mexican style dinner. "Cinco De Mayo " is an American tradition in the Mexican community. This is a holiday that is not celebrated in Mexico at all. The food was very good and in abundance. Lots of appetizers to start with then chicken fajitas with the accompaniments for dinner. Sangria and margaritas were poured. A representative form the Mission was there also and gave us a lot of information on how the Mission is funded and run. A very worthy cause. A nice sum of money was raised and all in attendance had a good time. The wine bottles that everyone brought came out at the end of the evening. A nice evening.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Zaca Mesa Wine Dinner

Friday, April 30, 2010

Delius Restaurant in Signal Hill,, hosted a wine dinner with the wines of Zaca Mesa featured. Edgar from the Henry Wine Group and Jessica Simmons with Zaca Mesa were seated at the table. This was a sold out dinner with a waiting list. I have never been a big Zaca Mesa fan but have heard that in the past few years they have upped their game. The two white wines that were poured tonight were my favorites of the four wines. The reds were good but I think I was expecting more.

First Course: Crispy Pork Cheeks, Grilled Watermelon, Black Radish, Scallions and a Balsamic Honey Glaze. This turned out to be my favorite dish tonight. The pork cheeks were fork tender and the glaze was excellent. It paired perfectly with the 2008 Zaca Mesa Viognier.

Second Course: Duck Proscuitto, Hearts of Palm, Manchego and Shallot Vinaigrette. The Chef de Cuisine, Daniel has been working of perfecting a duck proscuitto and I think he has succeeded. This was a very good, interesting dish and the wine served with it was a 2008 Zaca Mesa Chardonnay. Clean, Chablis like wine. Again a very good pairing.

Third Course: Wild Mushroom Agnolotti, Mushroom Consomme and Micro Arugula. Again a tasty dish but the aruglua could have been left out . Paired with a 2006 Zaca mesa "Z" Cuvee. A blend of Grenanche, Syrah, Mouvedre, Cinsult. The wine was ok. Not my favorite but others seemed to like it more than I did. It did pair well with the food.

Fourth Course: Pistachio Crusted Lamb Loin, Roasted Pearl Onion-Fennel Cous Cous with a Rosemary Demi-Glace. The lamb was cooked perfectly for me, nice and pink. The Cous Cous had great flavor but I found several grains that needed to be cooked a little longer. But that was my only complaint of the evening so it was minor. The wine was a 2006 Zaca Mesa Syrah. It was an good wine but not what I would consider a "really good" syrah. Again a lot of people really liked this wine. Also a good pairing. You can buy this wine at Costco right now at about $4 less than the winery price.

Dessert: Lemon Canele, Caramelized Oranges, Vanilla Foam and a Lemon Tuile. Interesting flavors, not too sweet and a good ending for the dinner.

Another good dinner at my favorite restaurant and I am expecting that the Hartford Court dinner next month will be just as good. I am never disappointed.