Sunday, June 27, 2010

June Gathering of The Flock

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today's theme for the wino's get together was Grenache & Grenache Blends. Grenache is one of the main grapes for Chateauneuf du Pape but not one bottle of that wine showed up. Remy graciously agreed to make her Paella for the event and hauled all her Paella equipment to Redondo Beach. I will say the Paella was outstanding. We had a small group today. Saturday always brings fewer people and the distance is a deterrent for some people. If its not in their own backyard it gets to be too much for them. Which is too bad because even though this was a single varietal grape from anyplace the wines were all interesting and some were exceptionally good.

One of the wines I liked the best was a 1998 D'Arenberg, Ironstone Pressings. A blend of Grenache, Shiraz ans Mouvedre.

Next month we are off to Mendocino County for the wines.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June's Wine & Dine

Saturday, June 19, 2010

This months Wine & Dine group met at Ante's Restaurant in San Pedro. This a Croatian restaurant that we have been to many times. It was a smaller group than in the past as some people last year had issues with the food. Whatever the problem was before there was no issues with food tonight.

We started off with Sauteed Shrimp with garlic and butter. This is always a good dish. I use the rolls to mop up the sauce.

Sauteed calamari came next. This is calamari steak in strips. Very tender and the same garlic butter sauce as the shrimp.

By now I am starting to get full. But here comes the Cevapcici Sausage. The same kind I had Thursday night at Michaels but much better. They made two batches, one that was cooked well and one that was medium which I enjoyed because it wasn't dry,. Served with chopped red onions and sauteed red onions.

A chicken and veal "Risotto" was set at the table. To me this was a rice dish not risotto. Flavor was good but it was plain old white rice.

Sauerkraut, Croatian style with pork and vegetables. I do like this dish and they cook the kraut dry.

Next was a croatian sausage, similar to a polish style sausage. Then Mostaccioli with bay shrimp, garlic, olive oil and cheese. Nothing great but food was OK.

Fillet of Sole was next, grilled Salvic style with garlic and olive oil. This was very good.

We had strudel with ice cream for dessert. The wines were abundant and as usual I do not keep track of the wines at these events because CJ does. I brought a 2005 Rusack Anacapa and again this was one of the first wines to bite the dust. Its a Bordeaux blend and was showing very well. We had bubblies to begin with and a very nice French Chablis along with some other good wines. CJ opened at 2005 Clos Pepe Pinot so it was nice to see how my 2005's are tasting without opening them.

Another wine dinner down and many more to go.

Croatian Wine Dinner at Michaels

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Michaels on Naples was hosting a Croatian wine dinner this evening which turned out to be the 7th game of the NBA. They had reservations for 91 people and unfortunately for the restaurant many people did not show up and did not have the courtesy to call and cancel. Stetson Robbins of Blue Danube Wine was there pouring these Croatian wines.

I did not really care for most of the pairings. There weren't terribly bad but went real good either.

First course was a grilled calamari, white balsamic and leek ragu crostini. Interesting flavor bit with crostini bread was a little soft and I'm not sure where the calamari was. It was OK, but I would not go out of my why to order it. This was paired with a 2008 sipun, Zlahtine, Island of Krk. Very stony, tannic white.

Next was a lobster salad with grilled apricot and trevison salad. Why too much Radicchio for me. Lobster was good but it seemed lost. Served with a 2008 Coronica, Malvasia Istria.

Third course was a monkfsh, scallop, blue prawn brodetto with baked polenta. The bordetto sauce was good. The monkfish was also. But the baked polenta had too much of a crust for me. Paired with a 2007 Dingac Winery "Plavac", Plavac Mali, Peljesac Peninsula, Dalmatian Coast. Very light red wine which was overwhelmed by the food.

A Cevapcici Sausage (pork, lamb & beef) was served with braised red cabbage and a slow cooked pork belly with pickled cabbage. This sausage had good flavor but it was dry to me. The cabbage was good. The pork belly had a crispy crust which was hard to cut through. The favor was bland and personally I did not find it appealing. I will put Delius pork belly up against Michaels any day. This was served with a 2007 Bibach "Riserva", Bibich, Lasin, Plavina, Skradain, North Dalmatia. Another light red, a little bigger than the first.

Dessert was a cheese plate. 3 cheeses I had not had before with looked and tasted like a fig jam I thought that this was the best dish of the evening. They served it with a 2005 Dingac Winery "Postup", Plavac Mali, Peljesac Peninsula, Dalmatian Coast.

The food was OK, but I expected better because of what I had heard of the restaurant. The best thing of the night was the bread which was served with olive oil and balsamic. I would go back and try Michaels on Naples again and see what the do with Italian food which is their specialty. I will say that the service was impeccable.

Randy Kemmner from the Wine Country and his wife Dale were seated at the table next to us and he indicated he really liked this restaurant so I would give it a second chance but I am in no rush

The Factory

Tuesday. June 15, 2010

The Factory in the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach is starting to host a BYOB wine dinner once a month. This months theme was Pinot Noir. Everyone sits at a communal table and everyone is supposed to share their wines. As with any other venue where there is "sharing" you have those that bring good wines and those that bring inexpensive wines. Of course a lot of these people consider their wines good. It was a fun evening and I was very surprised at how well the dinner paired with the wine. When I first heard the menu I had thoughts about it.

Tonight the Laker playoff game was on so the small place was noisy but it seemed to add to the atmosphere. A young couple are the owners and it seemed like a younger persons hangout. Their wine list was on a backboard and was surprising reasonable. Some other restaurants could take note of this.

A brought a 2006 Huber, Sta Rita Hills Pinot. It was the first bottle made a "dead solider". I didn't take notes which I should have so I do not remember most of the wines at our end of the table but there was a Merry Edwards and a few bottles from Orgeon. I quick look at the rest of the table didn't show too many really good wines.

We started off with a scallop of a slice of roasted corn (cob) with a tomato Pinot sauce. This dish surprised me as I wasn't looking at scallop and pinot as a good pairing.

A salad of shaved asparagus and Parmesan over a corn cake, Again went well with the wine.

Beef Stew with a cheese crisp. The stew was made with pinot and the vegetables had been gotten at the local farmers market.

Dessert was a Napoleon with stewed Bing cherries and gently cooked Rainier cherries and a pinot sauce.

For $25 this was a bargain. The food was good. And the atmosphere was a lot of fun. Next month is Spain so I will try to take better notes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Joe's Restaurant

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Went into Venice this evening to have dinner with Stan & Karen and a few others, There were 9 of us altogether.

Joe's is a small place and has been awarded 1 star by Michelin. I was looking forward to this experience. Stan took care of ordering and we all shared the dishes. This is a great way to do dinner as it gives you a lot of different tastes. Stan also brought along 4 bottles of wine. I did not take notes but I do remember a Peter Michaels Chardonnay, a 1998 Fat Bastard Syrah and a Saxum wine.

The dishes that were ordered were all outstanding and I ate a lot Foie Gras pate . Caviar & Foie Gras I could live on. This was almost like butter it was so smooth.

Tuna Tartare & Smoked Salmon with sliced cucumbers, diced tomatoes and lemon oil.

Hudson Valley Foir Gras parfait with melba toast and port gelee.

Grilled octupus with Greek salad, pine nut charmulam, Kalamata olive dust, Sicilian olive oil.

Porcini mushroom raviloi with wild mushrooms, parmesan broth Italian parsley.

Grilled Ahi Tuna with seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, potato rosti, herb red wine jus.

Tartine of seared albacore, sauce verte, Uni, diced tomato, basil, coriander, Nicoise olives.

Crisp grilled black cod and shitake mushroms, mizuna lettuce, Hijiki, braised oxtail, toasted brown rice, dsahi broth.

Jidori chicken breast, chestnut-porcini puree, braised winter greens, bacon lardons, cider jus.

We also had three desserts that were to die for. This place is in an area where parking is a premium. You can pay through the nose for valet or do like we did. Stan dropped us off in front of the restaurant and then went looking for parking. He found it 6 blocks away.

I don't live in the area which I'm glad of because I would be at this place a lot. Reservations are very highly recommended. The place had a long line of people waiting from about 7:30 on until we left about 9:00. I can see why this place is so highly rated.

Drive to Sta Rita Hills

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today I took off early to head the coast to Lompoc. Sea Smoke Cellars was having their pick up party today and I opted to pick up instead of having the wine shipped. I left early enough to drive up through Malibu and take the scenic coastal route. It only added 15 minutes to my drive time and was well worth arriving in a good mood instead of tense from driving through the valley and the sharp down grade going into Camarillo. Also getting 41 miles to the gallon was a big plus.

Sea Smoke has moved into a very large facility near the Lompoc airport. I took a quick look and decided it looked just like a lot of other barrel room facilities so I did not think I needed to hang around. Loaded up my wine and Stan's wine and after that was sure glad I did not invite anyone to drive with me.

Made a quick stop at Huber Cellars in the Sta Rita Hills for a pick up. Tasted Norm and Traudl's newest releases. Fed a treat to Heidi, bought some Dornfelder jelly that Traudl makes with the proceeds going to the Buellton Humane Society and was off down the road to Santa Ynez.

Stopped in at Stolpman in Santa Ynez. Peter had my order ready but I needed to taste a new syrah they have called "originals". Wine was made from these vines that were the original plantings at Stolpman's Vineyard on Ballard Canyon Road. This new syrah has big fruit and is drinking quite well for only being in the bottle for 2 months. Give a few more months of aging and it will taste really nice. I do not think that this wines is a lay down wine like the Hilltop Syrah but for drinking within the next year or so its perfect.

Bought another case of wine beside what I ordered and managed to find room for it in the car. I could not have taken another bottle with me. The car was loaded, truck, backseat and front area . Just enough room for me to sit and drive.

Decided to take the coast route back as I thought maybe Malibu would be all right to drive through since the weather was overcast and maybe the beach crowd was light. Turned out to be a good decision.

Had to make a stop at Stan's in Santa Monica to drop off his Sea Smoke wines. Decided to stay and go out to dinner with Stan and Karen and a few others. That is on the next blog.

Sunset Cellars Wine Tasting

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Delius Restaurant in Signal Hill hosted a wine tasting tonight. Sunset Cellars from the Suisun Valley area of California. These wines are on the lower end of middle of the road but you would not know it from the taste.

We had 6 wines tonight and the only negative was the Sunset Napa Barbera. I felt this wine was way to sweet for a Barbera and it didn't have the punch that expect from this rustic grape.

One of my favorites was the Bear Bottom Creek 2005 Zinfandel. The grapes were sourced from Dry Creek Valley. At $12 a bottle it was a steal. I did opt to but a few bottles of this wine.

Others tasted today were Sunset SV Zinfandel, a little lighter that the Bear Bottom Zin, Bear Bottom Creek Syrah, Twightlight Ridge Napa Cabernet and the Sunset Petit Syrah

Himilayan Grille Again & Again

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

12 if us met tonight for dinner at the Himilayan Grille in Sunset Beach. No details on the dinner except to say if you have not been there yet you have to make a real effort to try this place out. Everything we have ever ordered has been done very well.