Sunday, June 26, 2011

Piedmont Wines & The Factory

Tuesday, 21, 2011

Missed last months dinner at the Factory due to their changing the date. Heard it was good so decided to try again. This place is always such a hit and miss.

Again late getting the first course out. Crostini with homemade mozzarella and fresh diced tomatoes with basil and balsamic vinegar. Crostini is getting old. Its being overdone. My piece of toasted bread was odd shaped with a very thick large end. Like they didn't want to waste any part of the loaf. Natalie gushed about making the mozzarella from scratch. Asked her if she bought mozzarella curd but she said no, she made her own curd from skim milk and rennet.  I thought is was tough and had very little flavor. Instead of wasting time making it she should have gone to the local market and purchased a round of good mozzarella.

Next came a salad of field greens with chirizo, curds left over from the mozzarella , olives and a dressing made with olive oil and the brine from the olives. The salad was good. But it was served in a square bowl, all the dressing, olives and chirizo went to the bottom and you were constantly having to mix it it be able to get all the flavor. It would have much better on a plate.

After a long wait our "main" course arrived. Gnocchi with asparagus, white truffle oil, a green asparagus puree and a red bell pepper puree. Both of the purees were very good.  I could not taste any "truffle" which is to bad because Piedmonte, Italy is known for its truffles.  Natalie hand made the Gnocchi.  This pasta should be cut evenly for cooking. It was not. Various sizes and what looked like the uneven ends of the roll of pasta. My Gnocchi on the outside of the plate was cold and in the middle luke warm. It was also heavy and Gnocchi is supposed to be light. They actually talked about it being heavier and prided themselves on it.

Dessert was a chocolate mousse with baked red cherries and cannoli whipped cream with chopped pistachios. This was good.

This was an OK dinner. It again was hit and miss. I sometimes wonder if in doing this BYOB dinners they try to get too creative on the food dishes. Sometimes it is much better to stay in your comfort zone and cook what you are really good at. A little more attention to detail on the crostini and the gnocchi would have been a good thing.  If you can't get your plates out to your customers in a timely manner than you are taking on too much. They have upped the price of dinner to $30 which would be OK in light of the fact that everything has taken a jump in price lately. But this was not a $30 dinner.  I could have had braised lamb shank at Delius with the sides for less money

The big "problem" with this dinner is NO PROTEIN. The only protein we had was a few slivers of chirizo in the salad. They could have added some chicken pieces to the main dish and it would have solved the problem. Natalie had left but we pointed this out to Eric her husband. He looked like he was shocked and did not realize what had happened. I think they were so busy trying to be creative they lost sight of the basics. We also pointed out to him that it would be nice to have the menu posted a few days in advance so we knew what types of wines to bring. Natalie has said she likes to be inspired by the Farmers Market that day. But does she have to be inspired for the entire menu ?  A little less inspiration and more thought would be a big help.

Like Steve said if he had known there was not meat on the menu he wouldn't have opened a $70 bottle of Barolo. There were some good wines on one end of the table. Do not know what was on the other end as they seemed to hording them. They did pass down a Asti but I passed on it. Too sweet for my taste. We had a nice assortments of red & white. The wines passed the test but the dinner ????

Will try again next month and then re-evaluate if it worth the $30.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Walts Wharf & Copper River Salmon

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

6 of us met at Walt's Wharf in Seal Beach to get a taste of Copper River Salmon before the short season ends.  Parking is always a problem in downtown Seal Beach but as luck had me I found a parking spot right by the back door of the restaurant.

We all brought higher end Pinot Noirs to share. Corkage was $10 which I was surprised that it wasn't more seeing as Walt's Wharf has an extensive wine list. The restaurant is owned by Dr. Babcock of Babcock Wines in the Sta Rita Hills area.

I brought a 2003 Clos Pepe Vigernon Select. There was a 2001 Williams Selyem Rochioli Vineyard. Both of these wines were excellent.  Also brought was a 2005 and 2007 Sea Smoke Southing. Nice to compare the years. The 2005 was showing beautifully. The 2007 was good but could use a few more years aging. Rounded out with a 2008 Dundee Hills, 4 Graces, Black Family and a 2007 Abiouness Stanly Ranch.

Dinner was good., A bit pricey at $36 a plate but Copper River salmon is not cheap. It sells for about $26 + a pound in the fish markets.

The restaurantt was busy all night. Not packed but a constant turn over of tables. That is a good sign. Maybe the economy is starting to loosen slightly.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pinot Noir Tasting

Friday, June 10, 2011

Decided to do another Friday night seminar at the Wine Country is Signal Hill. Tonight is is Pinot Noirs. As I indicated at my last post on these seminars I have not been overly thrilled with them so I stopped going.

The person conducting this seminar was a lot more interesting than the last.  What did I learn ? Not much but I did get to taste a lot of Pinots that I had not had before. So it was a $35 tasting of 13 wines with a small amount of new information.

The wines I particularly liked were the 2008 Mt. Eden, 2008 Nalle, 2008 Domaine Drouhin and of course the 2006 Clos Pepe which is one of my favorite wineries.

The other wines were good but not to my palate as much. 2010 Cardwell Hill Rose, 2007 Matthew D. Taylor Michaud Vineyard, 2006 Joseph Swan Saralee's Vineyard, 2009 Antica Terra, 2009 Felton Road. 2007 Pyramid Valley, 2007 Belle Pente, 2007 Rippon and the 2009 Copain Wentzel Vineyard.

As always in these seminars after a few tastes of wine the noise level rises and the "chatter" from the females increases, If it was about the wines it would be OK, but it was not about the wines. It becomes very distracting.  It was an interesting evening. I would go back and do anothet seminar with this person but it would be a pick and choose situation.

Seafood Palace

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just had to get another dinner in before Henry leaves on vacation. Duong Son will not open until July or August so we may do another at the Seafood Palace before then.  I will say that this restaurant has good food. I do like some of the dishes better than Duong Son others less. Their seafood is fresh and that is a big plus.

We have been going mid week to this place because weekends are so crowded and noisy. Luck ran out tonight. They had a large party of 140 people in the area next to us. Not bad but still a lot of noise.

 We started out with Salt & Pepper Calamari which is always good. No heavy fishy tastes here. Really fresh seafood.

Next was Shrimp with Chinese Broccoli. Had to coax Margie into eating a shrimp and then I saw no greens on her plate. Asked why and "she does not like broccoli". After telling her that the Chinese broccoli is so much different than the one we are used to and that it tasted like spinach she consented to try a taste. And guess what ?  She liked it.

Sweet and sour soup was ladled up. This was really good tonight. Had seconds and maybe a third helping myself.

Henry ordered Peking Duck but with the crepes this time not the "little soft pillows". At least it wasn't as filling - less bread. Good but I still prefer Duong Son's version.

Kung Pao Chicken made its way to the table. This is a really good dish here. One of the better Kung Pao dishes I have had.

Beef with Spinach appeared. Again very good. Beef is tender and the spinach is cooked to perfection.

Last dish was Chicken with Rice Noodles and Salted Anchovies. Margie commented on how good this dish was. Of course we had not told her of the ingredients yet. After she finished we let her know about the anchovies. She did say she liked it. There is hope for her :) LOL

Dessert as usual was fresh fruit.   Tonight is was  Cantaloupe which was good and sweet.

Our wines tonight were a mixed bag which made it interesting.

NV Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne, 2007 P2 Montazi Pinot Noir, 2004 Keenan Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Kiamie White blend from Paso Robles, 2007 Fort Ross Sonoma Pinotage, 2007 Halter Ranch Paso Robles Cotes du Paso, white blend, 2009 Foxen Rose of Mouvedre, 2007 Edna Valley white blend.

Another good dinner with good food, wines and most importanly good friends.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Italian Wine 101 & New Grape Varietals

Friday, June 3, 2011

Attended a class of Italian Wine 101 at Wine County in Signal Hill., It had been quite some time since I have done of these class/tasting events. Frankly I got to the point that I felt the people "instructing" left a lot to be desired.  When the owner Randy does an event I seem to learn a lot. The others are a crap shoot to what I will walk away with. The motivation for this class was it listed grape varietals that I had not tasted yet. Ulterior motive but one I can live with.

We tasted a variety of wines from sparkling, white and red from (11)  different regions of Italy. Some were good wines the others OK. But the price point was attractive.

What did I learn from this class that I did not already know ???  That Valpolicella means "Valley of Many Cellars" and Regioto is a style of wine.  There was a small amount of information about what foods went with certain wines and where the regions in Italy are and why certain wines come from that particular region. They had a detailed wine region map of Italy and the areas were pointed out. I happened to have the same map (but in a fold out form) at home. In hindsight I should have brought it with me so I could see the detail more clearly.

I will say that this class was more informative that the last one I took with this particular person but I still felt it was not as adequate as it should. I realize not everyone is a natural teacher but if you are selling a product that you are supposedly knowledgeable about,  then step up your game.

The best thing about this class was that I picked up several new grape varietals and now I am at 277 varietals tasted. Pushing for that 300 mark.  The "" club has 1032 members. Out of that number 30 have reached the 200 mark, (including me)  7 the 300 mark and 2 the 400 mark.