Saturday, December 31, 2011


Friday, December 30, 2011

Last dinner of 2011. This restaurant used to be the Tantalizing Thai in Long Beach but new ownership. This was my first time back since the takeover. CJ wanted to try a few new dishes so 6 of us gathered together tonight. Nice to see Clyde & Libby again.

The new menu is written on shiny black paper. Difficult to read under dim lights. So I did not get the "official Thai" names for the dishes. Just let CJ do the ordering.

Started out with 3 appetizers. Lettuce wraps with some kind of chicken/rice noodle mixture, Vegetable rolls and Shrimp wrapped  in noodles then fried. We have had this dish before but I can't remember the official name. But they are good.

A new dish - Soft Shell crab with Curry Sauce. I am not a big fan of curry but I really liked this sauce.. I would order this dish again.

Crying Tiger Steak - this was ok but not the same as the previous owners. This dish I would not order again. I felt the strips of beef were extremely small and with that you loose flavor.

Hot Braised Pork - spicy. CJ ordered it mild but it still had too much bite to pair well with wine. This is a beer dish.

A dish of Pineapple Rice appeared. Wish this had come at the beginning of the meal with the plain white rice which I do not eat. I do like the pineapple rice because of all the add ins. Better flavor. I grew up on potatoes not white rice so I have never been able to get into it. The only time I can recall having white rice was in Rice Pudding. As I got older and since we were in California sometimes it would show up on the table but only if there was some kind of meat and gravy to pour over it. My family never ate plain white rice.

No bubblies were brought tonight. I thought CJ would bring one so I opted for a Chardonnay. He forgot to put his in his bag.

2001 Stolpman Angeli , Santa Ynez (Syrah) - in its prime - fantastic wine
2005 Sea Smoke Botella, Sta Rita Hills,  Pinot Noir ( beautiful after opening up)
2006 Huber, Sta Rita Hills, Pinot Noir - showing very well
2008 Quivera Elusion, Blend, (Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre & Petit Syrah)
2008 Toulouse, Anderson Valley, Gerwuztraminer
2008 Center Of Effort, Edna Valley, Chardonnay (went well with all the appetizers)
2007 Bridlewood, English Pleasure, Santa Ynez, Syrah

Good dinner tonight. Small table which I like, makes for better conversation. Very foggy driving home . Fog will probably be around for the weekend. Glad I am not a New Years Eve person. Would not want to be out in it with all the drunks who can't see anyway. Add fog to the scenario and its a disaster

Last Seafood Palace Dinner

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yes we did manage to get one more dinner in. Table of eight tonight. I prefer six people but sometimes the invite list grows.

Seafood Palace was busy tonight so we were at a smaller table. We always try to get a larger table because of all our wines and extra wine glasses we bring. The wine and food gets put on the turntable so at times its quite a load.

John had this week off of work so he got to join us. He was happy.

We started out with the sweet-sour soup. Unfortunately it was luke warm which Henry was not happy about. I think he had a few words with the management.

Next two dishes came out. Salt & Pepper Calamari and Beef with Chinese Broccoli. Both standards with us. Always good. Then the deep fried Tofu and Shrimp with Bok Choy and Fat Noodles.

Mark & Erin were in the group. Erin doesn't eat meat. Mark is allergic to shellfish. This was not known to us ahead of time.  So naturally next was Lobster and Noodles and Cooked Oysters with Ginger & Scallions.

Last two dishes were Spicy Pork Strips with Fish Sauce and Kung Pao Chicken. Best Kung Pao around.  By this time I am stuffed. Just ate a very small portion of each.

A good selection of wines were on the table.

NV Graham Beck Brut, South Africa
NV Chateau de Pampelone Cotes de Provence ( excellent with the oysters)
2005 Niner Fog Catcher, Paso Robles, Red Blend
2008 Arnot Roberts, Santa Cruz, Cabernet ( great wine after it opened up)
2008 McKeon-Phillips, Santa Maria BPR Cabernet
2009 Sea Smoke Ten, Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir
2010 Denner, Teresa Vineyard, Paso Robles White Rhone Blend
2010 Longoria Albarino

Duong Son opens up Friday. It will be next month before we have a dinner there. Need to let them get their legs under them first. So who knows we may be back to the Seafood Palace again soon.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Seafood Palace

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last dinner here I thought would be the last one but Duong Son still has not opened. Supposed to be this week but we are still waiting.

There was 7 of us tonight. Terry & Cora were there in spite of the fact that Cora cannot eat much because of the effects of her chemo and her liver cancer. She put up a great front. Wants to see everyone and say her good byes. I hope when it is my time I can be as gracious.

As usual we had the salt & pepper calamari. Best calamari around. Followed by Manila clams in black bean & jalapeno sauce. Excellent dish.

Pekin duck, Beef with greens, garlic green beans and a spicy soup. Cora had requested the sauteed lobster with noodles.  Good as always. Dinner was followed by a Mango pudding.

CJ & I both brought sparklings. I brought a Francois Chidaine Mount Louis Sur Loire and CJ brought a Louis Bouillet Brut Rose of Pinot. They were empty by time we got finished.

I also brought a 2004 Clos Pepe VS Pinot Noir.  A 2006 Clos Pepe Pinot, 2004 McKeon-Phillips BPR Cabernet, NV Stella Rosso, 2005 Testarossa Fritschen Russian River Pinot Noir and a 2005 Levendi Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Cabernet rounded out the selection.

CJ was disappointed in his Testarossa Pinot. Good nose, great front palate but then it went nowhere . Fell off fast. For the price of Testarossa wines this should not happen. I tasted all the wines except the Stella Rossa. Not my style at all. All were excellent. Impressed with the Levendi that Terry brought. If I had been at home with this wine I would have drank more.

Since John has next week off work we are going to try and schedule another dinner right after Christmas so he can join us. Don't know if it will be Seafood Palace or the new Doung Son. Looking forward to it in a big way. Can never have too much good Chinese food along with good wine and great company.

Christmas Open House

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Attended an annual open house today in site of the rain.  Getting into the holiday spirit. Lots of nibblies. I brought a 2005 York Petit Verdot. Glad I have a few more bottles of this stashed away.

Stayed longer than I expected so I must have had a good time. Kept the drinking down to bare minimum. 

 Too many police out this time of the year and with all the budget cuts the cities are really hurting for money. I have a firm belief that the police are writing more tickets than a few years ago. I see them everywhere now


Thursday, December 15, 2011

We have not been to Franco's in  quite awhile.  On a Thursday night the place was full. in spite of the rain. 7 of us gathered for dinner. I did not make any notations about food or wine. I was brain dead from the traffic and the drive from Torrance to Cypress.

I did bring a NV Clos Pepe Sparkling Rose of Pinot which was excellent. Along with a 2004 Stolpman LaCroce. La Croce is my favorite wine that Stolpman makes. A blend of Syrah & Sangiovese. It was the first bottle emptied. Always a good sign that the wine was top notch.

There was Champagne, a French white that Jan & Bob brought back from France, A Brunello, Nebiollo, another Italian red, a Pinot Grigio and a couple more reds on the table.

Bob & I ordered the lamb shank and neither of us were disappointed. Margie had the pork chop, Paul the Flounder, Jan had Salmon, Steve had the Steak Diane and I cannot remember what John ordered. We all ate hearty. The food at Franco's is really good. Must make a point to get back there soon.

Cakebread Cellars Wine Tasting

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

ABC Fine Wines in Long Beach hosted at Cakebread Cellars tasting this evening, They normally do a higher end tasting every month to 6 weeks. I have been going to the majority of these tastings. The price is a little higher than the weekly events at other wine stores but their quality is always higher. Since I no longer do all these weekends tastings I prefer to spend more to have higher quality .

Tonight's line up was 2009 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Decent wine, better than most California Sau Blancs but I have had better at a lower price. Priced at $32

2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay - a clean wine, nice balance.  Again a nice wine but at $46 - sorry Charlie.

2008 Napa Valley Carneros, Reserve Chardonnay, A little oaky for my taste. It did blow off with a little cheese. Again a nice wine but at $70 - No Way Jose.

2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. A light Pinot, good balance but too light on the end finish. At $60 - No No Nannette.

2008 Napa Valley Cabernet. I felt this was the weakest wine of the evening and several others agreed with me. $84 - Are you kidding.

2008 Red Hills, Lake County Zinfandel - personally I felt this was the best wine of the evening. Good fruit, balanced, good, clean finish and the price was OK - $32.

We all know that Cakebread Cellars is over priced for what it is. They have a big following. Do I buy - No - but I will drink if someone else puts out the money. For me there is too much good wine out there at decent prices. To pay a higher price your quality better be equal.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas The California Way

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Attended a party in Huntington Harbour to watch the annual boat parade. Donna lives on a corner lot which means the boats go down the main channel past her place and then come back and turn down another channel in front of her. So we get to see the decorated boats 4 times. Could not ask for a better viewing spot.

They block off entrance to the complex because of the parking problem. Donna and some of her neighbors got together and arranged for a shuttle bus to take us from the shopping center to the complex. Unfortunately the bus was running late. It was supposed to make its first pickup at 6:00 and it was 6:40 before it showed up. Then it did run every ten minutes.

All of the Harbour was decorated to the hilt. They run special sight seeing boats through the channels to view the decorated houses during the holidays. A spectacular sight.

An abundance of food was served along with free flowing drinks of every kind. Bruce, who is the fish buyer for The Fish Company restaurant brought a beautifully decorated slab of salmon. Quite the show piece. It was the talk of the evening.  And tasted equally good.

There must have been 70 people in attendance tonight. Huge crowd but we had a lot of outdoor space to hang around in and watch all the beautifully decorated boats.

I did leave right after the parade's completion. I am still fighting this head cold and did not want to get overtired or overly cold. It does get cold living right on the water.

A great party and hopefully it will happen again next year. Donna has had health problems for the past few years so no party for awhile.

Christmas Brunch

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I hosted my annual Christmas Brunch today. About 30 people attended. We lost 5 people at the last minute due to illness and other reasons. But picked up 2 that didn't rsvp until the day before.

I did my usual menu, ham, sausages & peppers, green chile egg & cheese casserole and a gouda cheese & artichoke egg casserole.  A lot of great appetizers and desserts were brought to load the table with food.  Along with bottles of wine.  I put out the "inexpensive" bubbly to make mimosa's etc. Anyone that wants something better brings it themselves.

I did out out a magnum of Chardonnay that I got at a silent auction. Gave it to William and Patte to take home afterwards as it was so oaky I could not handle it. They like oak so they took home the opened bottle. Also put out a "box" wine. A blend of four red varietals that I picked up at Chateau Margene in Paso Robles. Frankly it tasted better at the winery . But I did find after a week sitting on my counter the taste had changed quite a bit. There really should have been no change because it is sealed with no possibility of air getting in.  But it did change.

Came down with a nasty head cold just before Thanksgiving so it took it's toll on me. Had to have help from my sons decorating this year. Between the cold and "old age" I found it increasing difficult to get up and down the ladder to decorate. I keep thinking it may be that I should give up doing so much but then I don't want to be bored with life. Or maybe I should just have the knee replacement and get it over with. I am waiting for them to perfect the recovery time.

Novembers Wino's Gathering

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today's "gathering of the flock" was a vertical of McKeon-Phillips Baileys Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Years from 1998 to 2008. Terry also brought some other older McKeon-Phllips varietals to round out the selection. 20 reds along with a couple of whites, a blush and some extra bottles just  in case we ran out of wine. Oliver "ole eagle eye"  did spy 2 really good bottles that I had put in the back,  so they were opened. A 1998 Silver Oak, Alexander Valley and a 2005 Krupp Brothers Stage Coach Napa Valley.

Since Terry & Cora provided all the wines everyone else was to furnish the food. I had asked people to make their appetizers substantial and did they. We had so much food and all of it good. Big group turned out for this special tasting and we were all thankful for the generosity of T & C.

Terry's two daughters helped him as Cora was not feeling well. They did a great job in helping "ole dad".

I wish all of our monthly tastings were of this caliber. We would be so spoiled which I have no objection to at this stage of my life.

No tasting in December because of all the holiday events.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pinot & Paella

Saturday, November 19, 2011

John & Remy hosted a Paella & Pinot dinner tonight. Remy does great Paella and the pinots flowed. Good group of people, not all the wine group. A mixed bag of people. Some great appetizers brought by the guests. I went by La Espanola a Spanish deli and market for cheese and pates. Defying tradition I brought a Rose and an Albarino. The albarino was the first bottle emptied. It was a Longoria from the Lompoc/Santa Ynez area and was showing really well. There were at least 20 bottles of Pinot on the table and some really good ones. Dessert was flan which Remy makes from a old family recipe. Nice evening and much enjoyment.

Champagne Dinner at Delius

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another dinner I cannot find my notes on. I do remember we had oysters, sweetbreads, and several other dishes. When I find my notes I will edit this posts.

Vacation Time

Took my annual trip to Avila Beach. Cut it short my two days this year. My sister came in from St. George, Utah for her high school reunion so I had dinner with her before I left the next day. Had not seen her in 5 years. Returned early because of the Champagne dinner at Delius.

Only spent one day on Paso Robles. Spent most of my time this trip in the Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo area and the Santa Ynez/Lompoc area.  Did not rush anything and came back with 2 cases of wine. Two cases more than I wanted to but everything was tasting good. 

Weather was perfect. Got some Christmas shopping done. Only downer was two episodes of my acid reflux which knocked me out for two afternoons.

Lots of new wineries and it's impossible to get to all of them. Asked a few winemakers that I knew for suggestions. At least it keeps me away from the "run of the mill" type wineries that are not worth the stop.

Lobster Season is Open

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stan went diving last night and got lobsters. He called me at work in the afternoon and invited me to dinner that night. Can never turn down an offer of lobster with Stan. Since I had no bottle of wine with me I brought dessert. Can never miss with something from the Hawaiian Bakery in Torrance.

Freeway wasn't bad tonight and made it to Santa Monica in about and hour.

A bottle of 2007 Kosta Browne Kanzler Vineyard was brought out. Really showing well. There also was a champagne, a chardonnay (high end) that was way to oaky for me and another red on the table. Did not keep notes and am posting this 4 weeks later so my memory has faded a lot.

Another great dinner and good company. Life is good.

Heidsick-Monopole Tasting

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cannot find my notes on this tasting, along with others. In the rush for vacation and decorating for the holidays I have misplaced them When things settle down I will revise this post.

The tasting had to be good because I bought 2 bottles of champagne that night.

October Meeting of The Winos

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Our monthly meeting of the flock was held today and the theme was Carneros Whites ands Howell Mountain Reds. Along with bring yourself and /or your bottle in costume. I am not a Halloween person so I brought myself and bottle "as is". Some costumes were quite clever, The house and outdoor area was decorated and made for a very "spooky" atmosphere. All the wines were good. The theme dictated that. When a person choose a "generic" theme to their tasting you have a certain portion of people who will take the cheapest way with a bottle.

The food was supposed to be "spooky" also. We had mummified meatloaf, mummy fingers etc., The tasting was such a hit that the hosts will be doing the Halloween theme next year.