Saturday, July 30, 2011

Single Malt Scotch Tasting

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I have drank Scotch for years and have always preferred single malt over blended without really knowing the difference. I just never got into the research of Scotch like I did wine.

ABC Fine Wines & Spirits in Long Beach hosted at Balvenie tasting tonight. The right time to go and learn.

What I did learn is the Scotch is made with three ingredients, Barley, water and yeast. Blended Scotch is made with whiskeys from several different sources. A single malt is made at a single source (Scotch House). They do not bring in any outside Scotch to blend with their own. I also assumed (and we know what assuming can be) that since it said single malt it had something to do with the grains.

I just pray that I keep liking Scotch but not become fascinated with it. At $100 and up for good single malt I could be in trouble. Granted you do not drink a bottle in a couple of days like you do wine. The bottle would probably last you months. At least that what I am trying to convey to my brain.

The casks/barrells that Scotch is aged in come "used bourbon" from the US and Europe. We tasted Scotch that had been aged in Maderia casks and  Sherry casks. It was interesting to taste how the whiskey takes on a slight flavor from these casks. We also tasted one that was Peat smoked.  The peat from the bogs is set on fire and since it  is dense it smokes instead of burns. They do that with the sprouting grain to impart that peaty flavor to it. It did not show up on the nose but it was very predominant on the palate.

We tasted (I think, it was dark I could not read what was put in front of me - ABC really needs better lighting)   The Balvenie, 12 Year Old Doublewood, 15 Year Old Single Barrell, 21 Year Old PortWood and the Peated Cask. Prices for a bottle ranged from $60 to $200.

They gave each of us a eye dropper to added a drop or two of distilled water to the scotch. I did try it and it seems to really take the heat away. Just 2 small drops changed the taste completely. We came away the glasses, dropper, pens. I always like a few freebie's .

So now I will have to do some research and learn more about this whiskey and hope I do not get to addicted to it

We could have second tastes if we wanted. But being my own designated driver I deferred. Do not need a DUI for any reason at all.

Seafood Palace - Maybe The Last Dinner Here

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Doung Son still has not reopened so eight of us made a spur of the moment last minute decision to have dinner at the Seafood Palace again.

Cora is starting chemo again so this would be her last wine dinner for several months. In fact she had a treatment Tuesday  but it does take a while for the chemicals to build up in your body so she still was feeling decent and had not lost her taste buds yet.

We started out with 4 seafood dishes all served at the same time. Salt & Pepper Calamari with jalapenos, Fried Oysters with ginger and scallions , shrimp with Chinese broccoli and Lobster with noodles. I was in seventh heaven. I could have had seafood for the entire meal. These dishes paired exceptionally well with a Chablis that T & C brought. There was a Sauvignon Blanc on the table but I am finding that I have to stay away from these wines. The acidity is starting to really bother me,

Next up was a dish, "choice beef" with spinach. I took one piece of beef and by time the dish made its way back to me all the meat was gone. What I did have was very good. It was cubed instead of sliced like we normally get.

Shredded spicy pork with noddles,  Tofu with spinach and chicken with soft fat noddles (great sauce) rounded out the meal.

Dessert was Flan with a coffee sauce. This was a new one.

The table next to us was celebrating a special occasion. They had a whole sucking pig brought to the table. It was on a silver tray surrounded by flowers. It even had a bid red flower on its head. Now I am talking "whole" pig.  Reminded me of a movie years ago. Can't remember the title right now or the name of the young model/actress that was brought out on a large tray and showed off to the potential clients. The highest bidder would be the first to get her virginity. It was a bordello and her mother worked there. So the pig looked innocent also.  What I found fascinating was they cut the skin from the top of the backbone and made like it was Peking Duck.. Put the skin inside these dough "pillows" and added shredded scallions and added a sauce.  All this table did was eat the skin. All the meat was taken off the bones and packed for them to take home.

The wines that were brought tonight are as follows:

2005 Loring, Russell Vineyard, Pinot Noir
2007 Williams Selyem, Sonoma County, Pinot Noir
2008 Justin, Paso Robles,  Sauvignon Blanc
2006 Talley, Arroyo Grande, Pinot Noir
1997 Kalin Cellars , Livermore, Semillion
2001 Rosenthal, Malibu Newton Canyon Meritage
2007 McKeon-Phillips, BPR, Caberenet Sauvignon
2008 McKeon-Phillips, BPR, Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Domaine Clos De L'eglise, Macon, Albert Bicholt, Chablis

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Utopia Restaurant in Long Beach hosted a  "Summer Wine Dinner" tonight. They used to do a lot of wine dinners but have really scaled back in the past year or so. Could be the economy or the fact that every restaurant within the LA/Orange County area  has decided this is the way to go. I feel we are completely saturated with dinners.

I was glad to get parking. Since Long Beach has put in all those bicycle lanes on the streets it has taken away close to 40% of the avialable parking spaces.  It was great for the city ot understand the needs of the cyclist's but they forgot the needs of the car people. Not everyone lives downtown and not everyone is capable of riding a bicycle. And there is not enought parking structures or lots to make up the difference.

There were just two of us tonight at the table. Margie and me. It was a nice break not to have a larger group.

We started out with a Seafood Ceviche. I have had this before here and it is well prepared and good. Probably because of the Mexican cooks. Margie does not eat seafood . Utopia has always been good about substitutions. She was served fried artichoke hearts. This course was paired with a 2009 Sofia, Rose from Napa Valley. Nice wine. Perfect combination.

Next course was a Grilled Portabella Mushroom with a herb/shallot/balsamic reduction sauce.  Idea was good but the sauce was so way over with the vinegar. It tasted like several people in the kitchen added vinegar not knowing someone else did before them. It really detracted from the mushroom. This was served with a 2010 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. This wine is always a good wine. But they were selling it for $15 and you can get it around $12  to $14 almost anyplace else.

Main course was Grilled Filet Mignon with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and grilled vegetables. My steak was cooked the way I liked it. Margie said hers was a little more done than medium. Flavor was ok. The grilled vegetables had herbs and pepper on them. The potatoes were potatoes. Decent but nothing special. The wine for this dish was a 2006 Franciscan Napa Valley Merlot.  Nice wine if you like Merlot. It did pair well with the meat.

Dessert was the best of the meal.  A Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce.  I tried to eat all of mine but did leave one bite on the plate. This was so rich it was all I could be to get as far as I did. They served a Sandeman Ruby Port. Overkill on the sweet.  I really prefer my port with savory, like cheese. I waited until after dessert to drink the port.

This dinner was $45 with the wine. Compared to The Factory at $30 and you bring the wine, this was a better deal. Yes we get small portions compared to if we had ordered off the regular menu. But I don't eat large portions anymore anyway. So the size is good for me.

Utopia plans on doing another wine dinner in September. I will sign up for it if I do not have any conflicts. Amir was glad to see us and asked where we had been. Explained to him we seemed to have been dropped form the email list for some reason and only saw the dinner listed at He took our email addresses again so hopefully it will straighten the matter out. But frankly I would not put money on it.

Margie won a bottle of wine and everyone was given tickets to the Laugh Factory in Long Baech.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sta Rita Hills Wine Dinner at The Factory

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Theme tonight at the Factory was Sta Rita Hills. This would be mainly Pinots and Chardonnays. Dishes were taken from a restaurant menu in the Santa Ynez area. Why they felt it was compatible with wines from another area is beyond me.  Dinner was 40 minutes late in starting. They know how many people are coming. They advertise it at 7:00 so I cannot understand how they cannot have something ready to go with 15 minutes. I know for $30 I can't expect much but how hard is it get an appetizer on the table. As I have indicated before, quit being so creative and get back to basics.

We started out with a pizza - had a lemon sauce and grilled cherry tomatoes on it. Flavor was good but the crust was soft. Some kind of whole wheat thing.

Grilled eggplant showed up. Two rounds of eggplant that was breaded and fried. Not greasy, had good flavor and was served with a Pesto sauce and Marinara sauce.

Main course was Rigatoni Bolognese - at this point I felt this dinner was far better suited with last months Italian wine theme than this months theme. The Bolognese sauce had Spanish Pork Loin in it. Sauce was good. Way to much Rigatoni on the plate for the amount of sauce. First time I have taken food home from this restaurant.

Dessert was supposed to be a Fresh Blackberry and Lemon Curd. I was really looking forward to this after such a heavy meal. But no - Natalie decided to be inspired - so we had a corn pancake/crepe thing stuffed with Mozzarella and a Blackberry sauce with Marscapone cheese.  This was good but at this point we were really carbed out. I think that instead of Mozzarella inside if she would have out some Marscapone cheese it would have been lighter in taste. The sauce was very good. This was probably the best dish of the evening.

The theme tonight was Sta Rita Hills.  One person who seems to think he knows everything brought a Jaffurs Mouvedre and a Santa Barbara Winery Chardonnay. His reasoning was they sourced grapes from the Thompson Vineyard and he thought it was close to the Sta Rita Hills because it was near the Melville property. I did not say much as I wanted to double check that I was right and he was dead wrong. Next month at the dinner I will tell him  my findings. He is way off base. If he wasn't so much of a pompous "a--" I would let it go. But sometimes you just have to get in someones face.

Some other wines tonight were 2007 & 2008 Huber Chardonnays, 2006 Loring Clos Pepe Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2007 Flying Goat Rio Vista Pinot Noir, 2006 Longoria Pinot Noir, 2009 Clos Pepe Chardonnay, 2004 Curran-D'Alfinso Tancho La Vina Pinot Noir and a Flying Goat "Goat Bubbles". A few other wines were there but I seemed to have missed them

July's Gathering

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our monthly get together was held today. Theme was White wines from South America and Reds from New Zealand & Australia. Good selection but nothing really stood out as outstanding. Three people brought the same white wine. That's why if I do not have a wine that fits the theme in my cellar I go someplace away from the area to purchase the wines.  Too many people are fans of Bev Mo and Total Wines. They like convenience and don't really want to be put out into finding something unique. Good appetizers and the host made a really good pork tenderloin with a Chipolte sauce. Did not try desserts as I was stuffed by then. The weather was a little warmer than at my place and I could feel the heat. I do not do well in heat with red wines. I did leave a  little earlier than usual but sometimes ---- happens.

On to next month and another batch of heavy red wines in August in the heat.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Annual Bus Trip to Wine Country

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Our annual bus trip with Delius Restaurant started out about 8:00. An hour earlier than in the past. Since we were going to the Wine Ghetto in Lompoc they wanted to get on the road early. Instead of having a "Champagne Breakfast" in the restaurant before departure we were served breakfast on board. They did have pastries and coffee inside the restaurant for early arrivals.  Fresh fruit cups, mimosa's bubbly, breakfast burritos were served on the bus. Concept was good but execution did not work out well. The bus was a rougher ride than normal. You had to balance your drink cups along with your food.  They ran out of bubbly right away. I got one glass. I know they had coffee but I did not see anyone at the front of the bus getting any. The breakfast burritos were good but it was impossible to add the salsa to them and hold your cup and burrito at the same time.  Louise said that doing the breakfast this way was far more work for her than serving it in the restaurant. Perhaps this will  be a one time event.

We arrived at the Ghetto a few minutes early. Most of the tasting rooms open at 11:00. Our first stop was Flying Goat Cellars. Norm Yost the owner and winemaker gave us a short description of the Sta Rita Hills wine area. We tasted, bought and then were free to wander the Ghetto. We had tickets for no charge tastings at Ampeolos, Palmini. La Vie, Loring and Samsara. I made it to Ampelos, Loring, Samsura and La Vie. I get free tastings at Palmini & Loring both of which I will be at in August.   La Vie I was very disappointed in. I did stop into the Taste of Sta Rita Hills to pick up a case of wine I had ordered from Clos Pepe. I also bought some Moretti Bianchetto. Very good white wine with an attractive price. Antonio Moretti makes very good, true to the variety Italian wines.  The tasting room also features several different wineries.

Evening Land was recommended to me but I did not get a chance to get to it. I will do that in August.

I felt we needed another hour at the Ghetto.  But at 1:30 we left to go to Foley for lunch and a tasting. The setting was nice. Foleys wines are overpriced for what they are. After that we headed to Cold Heaven & Prodigal. By this time I was wines out so I wasn't too keen on these wines. Maybe another time with a fresher palate I may feel different.

All in all a decent day. But I prefer breakfast in the restaurant.  I felt rushed on this trip for some reason. I hope next year they break the mold for lunch and so something different. Its been the same sandwiches and salads for the last 5 or 6 years now.  One year they had lunch catered at one of the wineries. An off site company came in and did a barbecue with tri tip and chicken with all the sides, It was great. It would be nice to have that again.

Traffic was good the way up and back. No slow downs. Perfect for traveling.  Weather cooperated. A good day.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Back to The Himilayan

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A few people had those noses out of joint because they were not included in last weeks dinner at the Himilayan so we ventured back this week. Again we had 3 people that had not been to this rrestaurant before. Everyone said they would be back.

The only new dish that was ordered was the Mango Chicken. Everything else we have had in prior trips.  We started out with Samosa's which are the best around. The rest of the dishes were Rogan Josh Lamb, Shrimp Tandorri, Chicken Vindaloo, Tibetian Fish, Lamb Saag.

W e have never ordered dessert here but 2 of the females decided to try the Pistachio ice cream. It was a very good quality ice cream..

Interesting group of wines tonight. I found that the Cabs went best with the food.

2007 McKeon-Phillips BPR Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Coelho Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2007 Provence Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 St. Francis Old Vine Sonoma Zinfandel
2009 Margerum Sybarite Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc
2008 Dumol Russian River Syrah

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Himilayan Grille

Thursday, June 30, 2011

6 of us gathered tonight at The Himilayan Grille in Sunset Beach for dinner. There were 3 people who had never been to this restaurant before but I think they will be back.

Since everyone orders a dish or two and we share we had a few new ones tonight. We started out with Samosa's which are always good here. Very light and not greasy. Then came a chicken dish. Can't remember the name but since Oliver ordered it we referred to it as "Chicken  Nuggets". Small pieces of chicken with a light batter and fried. They were very good.

We also tried the eggplant dish and the lentil dish. None of which I had before. Not two of my favorite foods but these were actually good and I would have no problem ordering them again We rounded it out with Rack of Lamb, Shrimp Saag, Lamb Vindaloo, Garlic Chicken, Tibetan Shrimp, Vegetables Korma and Lamb Chou Chou.

Wines brought tonight were interesting.

2006 McKeon-Phillips Cab Franc Reserve
2005 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2008 Hitching Post Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
2007 Lewelling White Vineyard Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (Robert Parker 97)
2010 McKeon-Phllips Sauvignon Blanc
????  Beckman Syrah

Monthly Gathering of The Flock

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Our monthly wino get together was held today. Theme was Red French Bordeauxs and French Champagnes.  People went out for this tasting. The theme was a good one.  Some people have a knack for picking out a good theme and others have no imagination. Small group today. A lot of people on vacations. We had 12 reds and 4 champagnes

A couple of exceptional wines were the 2004 Crystal Champagne and the 1989 Chateau Leoville Barton Saint Julien Bordeaux. The 2003 Chateau Ferriere-Margux stood in there also,

All the wines were very good and this tasting was really a pleasure to attend.

In Search of More Varietals

Thursday, June 23, 2011 I have 4 people in that are active in the quest for tasting numerous varietals of wine grapes.

I have my 200 certificate and they all have their 100 certificate.  I purchased a bottle from Italy that supposedly had 152 varietals in it. I also put out a few other odd bottles I picked up in the last few weeks.

Steve Delong of says that the bottle of Cento Uve I bought has many duplicates. After I submitted my list for the 300 certificate he said to double check.  A little disappointing but since I had 277 varietals already I have no doubt that I will surpass the 300 mark. Now I just need "hours" free to be able to do this.

Mid Week Wine Tastings

Normally I do not post about the wine tastings I do on a regular basis but I have done two in the past weeks that were exceptional.

On Tuesday, June 21, 2011 I stopped at Wine Country before going to The Factory for dinner. They had a special German Riesling tasting that night. Two winemakers from Germany were showcasing their wines. all were very good and the exceptional one was a 1985 Auslese. It had such depth to it. I can see why people can get hooked on older Rieslings.

On Wednesday, June 29, 2011 I went to ABC Liquor & Fine Wines in Long Beach. This place is a block off the beach and just at the beginning of Belmont Shore.  Theu were tasting Dragonnette wines. I have tasted these wines a few weeks back at the Santa Barbara future's tasting at the Wine House in Los Angeles. Small winery. Sources most of their grapes from other vineyards.  I was very impressed. So much so I paid $160 for 3 bottles. Their Fiddlestix Pinot was outstanding. Had a very chocolate, black cherry thing going on.  The other was "MJM" a blend of 4 varietals. Both of these wines will cellar nicely for a few years.

I will definitely have to check on Dragonnette at the "Wine & Fire" event in August.