Saturday, February 26, 2011


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Six of us gathered at Fanco's in Los Alamitos tonight for dinner. Had not been here for awhile. I arrived ahead of the group as I came straight from work with a quick detour to Costco. Nibbled on bread and opened my wine. Had to check it out to make sure it was good. Any excuse to sip the red.

3 of us ordered the veal chop special. Huge chop (as big as the ones at Traders Joes) stuffed with spinach, Fontina cheese, sun dried tomatoes with a mushroom Marsala sauce. Sopped up the sauce with the bread. A risotto dish, pasta with clams and a stuffed sole rounded out the evening All were good. Did not hear any complaints from the gallery. I took half of my dish home and will have it for breakfast on Saturday.

I brought a 2002 Ciaccipiccolomini d'Aragon Brunello di Montalcino, A little light but good. Also on the table for our consumption was a NV Michel Loriot Extra Brut Champagne, 2008 Tobin James, James Gang Reserve Primotivo, 2005 Bottega Vinaia Trention Pinot Grigio, 2004 Brunacio Casella Brunello, 2008 Tablas Creek Vermentino, 2008 Anthill Farms Syrah and 2008 Lynmar Estate Quail Hill Pinot Noir.

I will have to make sure it is not as long between visits to Franco's again. Small family owned restauant and the food is good.

Monthy Wino's Gathering

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The monthly group of winos ascended on my "Casa" today. My theme was Wines Rated 93 to 100. This always brings out a mixed bag of wines. But always good. They do not necessarily have to be expensive to get a good rating. There were several bottles that were in the $20 range.

With all gatherings this is a pot lock. I made the main dish, this year was chili. Everyone brings a dish of some type and you hope for a variety. Last month there was an abundance of desserts, so this month everyone went the other route. If it had not been for Patte bringing a birthday cake for William there was only 1 other dessert brought. Edie brought an appetizer of Filo pastry cups filled with brie cheese and candied nuts. Excellent. It went fast We do have a group of "gluttons" I think.

The weather was cold which made it great for having the wines outside on the patio. Managed to get through most of the event without too many red wine spots on my white couch until later in the evening after everyone was gone Ted knocked over his glass so I will be washing all my white slipcovers.

An interesting set of wine showed up. a 2008, 2005 and 2004 Schild Barossa Syrah. Big difference in the taste between the years. A 1995 Simi Reserve Cabernet was still drinking nicely. The 2006 Saxum Broken Stones disappeared fast. All the wines were good but a few were better than others. 27 wines total. Everything from Brut Rose to Royal Tokaj

The nice thing about hosting is you get to keep the bottles of wine that are left. So for 2 days I could enjoy several glasses of different wine in the evening. Sometimes I enjoy that more.

The Olive Pit

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A new restaurant has opened a couple of blocks from where I live. The Olive Pit. Apparently thy have a place in Brea also. Stopped in a couple of weeks ago to check it out and decided to come back with a few "foodies". The first time I was in it was not "full service" . You placed your order at the counter, received a number which you placed on your table and they brought your food to you. Reminded me of Carls Jr.. Ok idea but not the best.

Tonight they had a few serve staff to help take your orders. Like a real restaurant.

We started out with a couple of appetizers. Dolmades and the Three Dip Combo (Humus, Tzatziki and Melitzanosalata) along with pita bread. Dips wre exceptionally good. The Dolmades I wrote about in an earler blog. Good but different than Prevaza's. I had seen the grilled octopus on the blackboard when I walked in then promptly forgot about it. Maybe next time. Grilled octopus is so different from the rubby, chewy kind that you get with sushi.

4 of us had the lamb chops and two had mixed kabobs. Everyone was happy with their selections and the prices are reasonable. They did not charge us corkage so with tax and tip dinner came out to $25 a person.

We did have a good assortment of wines. the 2006 McKeon-Phillips Cabernet Franc was very good. We also had a Procesco which the bottle was real interesting. Didn't write the name down but it looked like a "Greek" painting instead of Italian I brought a 2005 Kosta Browne Amber Ridge Syrah whuch was showing well. A 2001 Stolpman Syrah, Arbor Brook Pinot Gris, 2004 Halter Ranch Ancestry, Ken Brown Clos Pepe Pinot Noir and a Alma Rose Chardonnay rounded out the evening.

We had Akis, the manager try our wines. He was feeling "good" when he left our table.

The Olive Pit is convenient to stop into on my way home from work. That I plan on doing on a regular basis. And we will be back with our wine to try new dishes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

January Gathering of The Winos

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The "Winos" gathered at Oliver & Lisa's today for the first wine tasting of the year. This month's theme was California Cabernet Sauvignon and California Sparkling. 26 cab's, 5 sparkling's and 1 Bordeaux showed up. Ranged from 1985 to 2009. Interesting selection. Most were good, a few over the hill and a few memorable ones. I did like the 1993 DeLoach and the 1993 Raymond Reserve. There was such a wide selection that it was real interesting to compare years and region. The 2005 Provence was good along with the 2006 Keenan,

Desserts were the hit of the day. Big selection. An abundance of food and a scattering of rain. The rain kept the party inside most of the time.

Big turnout for the first one of the year. Next month it's my turn to host. Hope it doesn't rain that day. I count on using my balcony for the wine.

Roll Out The Barrels

Saturday, January 29, 2011

We headed up the highway towards Santa Maria today to attend McKeon-Phillips barrel tasting. Stopped at Ellen's in Buellton for breakfast. I always order the biscuits and gravy. Its the only time I get them . They are so good tasting and so bad for you. I figure a couple of times a year should be ok.

We were at Huber Vineyards at 11:00 when they opened. Picked up a case of 2007 Huber Pinot Noir for $259. That is $21.58 a bottle for $40+ wine. Norm absorbed the sales tax so it was a better bargain. Naturally we had to taste what was on the counter. They Hubers really make nice wines. If I go back up the end of February I may pick up another case. At that price it makes a very inexpensive house wine.

We informed Norm & Traudl where we were going. They had not heard of McKeon-Phillips so next time I stop in I will drop them off a bottle of Cabernet along with some red wine vinegar that I have been making. Its time to pull off some vinegar as it has been in the jar for close to a year now. If I do say so myself , it's damm good vinegar.

Caught up with Terry & Cora and their 2 daughters at McKeon-Phillips. Had to walk around the corner of the complex and pick up fresh tamales at the Santa Maria Tamale Shop. I get them raw so I can freeze them and then I just steam them whenever I want a really good fresh tamales. Better flavor than freezing cooked tamales then reheating them.

We sat down to lunch along with barrel tasting 8 wines. Remember all these wines were taken straight from the barrel and had not been bottled yet.

Up first was Cavatelli pasta with Prince Edward Island mussels. Mussels were good. I would have gone with a different pasta myself. This was served with a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine improved dramatically with allowing it to sit for at least 15 minutes. Got rid of the sharp acidity. I have found McKeon-Phillips Sau Blancs to be best the year they are released. They go down hill fast from there.

Then we were served a soup. I was "PINK". Said it was "Yellow" beet and fennel. Now yellow beets are yellow inside and out. How it turned pink I do not know. I have never made soup from yellow beets so maybe it turns color. But when you steam a yellow beet it stays yellow. It wasn't awful tasting but I would never order it in a restaurant nor would I make it. This was served with a 2008 Pinot Noir, which I wasn't wild about but Terry thought it had great potential. Also a 2008 Cabernet Franc was served which I felt was a far superior wine.

Main course was a Lamb & Butternut Squash multigrain pasta. This dish was so sweet from the squash I had a hard time eating it. The lamb was hard to find. I think this dish would have been really good if there was someway to tone down the sweetness. It was served with a 2008 Petit Verdot and a 2008 Leonardo. Both were nice wines but I preferred the Petit.

Arriving next was a Pork Chop on a bed of Braised Radicchio. This was a very large chop. Too big. The radicchio was excellent The chop would have befitted form a brining. It was good but it could have been so much better. The wines served were 2008 Bella's Nebbiolo and 2009 Baileys Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Both good wines.

Dessert was a Blueberry Buttermilk Cake with Spiced Whipped Cream. Plain and simple. OK tasting. Nothing spectacular. The wine was a 2009 Malbec which was very good.

I only ordered the 2009 Baileys PR Cab through Terry. I would have liked to order some Cab Franc & Malbec but I have so much wine sitting around in cases right now and I have to start drinking more and buying less. I also had just bought a case of Huber which Steve took half. But that was still 6 more bottles to add to my collection.

I may go up the end of February for the release party. Will have to see how I am doing at that particular time. Been fighting the "bug" that has been going around so I will not make plane too far in advance.

I will say that the bottles I listed were all good and some were really good. They should be in top form when they are released in 2012. We paid about 1/3 to 1/2 half of what the price will be next year when they are released. Of course your money is tied up for a year in advance, but but 50% return is good.