Sunday, April 29, 2012

Italian & Delius

Friday. April 27, 2012

Dave Solzman the owner at Delius went to Italy on a "wine business tour" a few years ago. This dinner was a culmination of his adventures in Italy. Several people that were on the tour with him were present also to render their versions of Dave's stories. I was interesting and funny. Especially the story of Dave "snoring" though a lecture at one of the wineries.

Appetizer was Pizza ai Prosciutto e Funghi & Pizza Marghertia. Knowing that I would be taking food home tonight I had one piece of the  Proscuitto pizza which was tasty. The wine was a Borjo Magredo Prosecco Friuli-Grave. I did like this Prosecco and bought a few bottles.

First Course: Clam, Mussel & Tomato Stew, Burrata Crostini. Broth was excellent and the Burrata on the bread was very good also. Lots of shellfish. Paired with a 2010 Montecucco, Colle Massari Vermention "Melacce". Good pairing and a good wine, which I bought a few bottles of.

Second Course: Tepan Misto (Mache) - Battered & Fried Veggies, Parmesan Filled Rice Balls with Arrabiata. Light batter , no grease, and the rice ball was creamy. Two wines were paired and both went well with a different component of the dish. 2009 Marche, Umani Ronchi Verdicchio "Casal di Serra" and a 2009 Piemonte, Giacosa Fratelli Barbera "Bussia".

Third Course: Red Wine Risotto, Duck Confit, Mushrooms & Pecorino -   very rich dish. Glad it was a small portion. Also served with two wines. 2006 Puglia, Rivera "Il Falcone" Castel del Monte Riserva. Also a wine that I bought tonight and a 2008 Greve di Chianti, Vignamaggio Chianti Classico "Gherardino".

At this point I have reach my no return. If I eat the next course I cannot have dessert. So we all know what choice I will make.

Fourth Course: Herb Crusted Lamb Loin, Creamy Polenta & Stuffed Eggplant.  I had two small pieces of meat to try with the wine and had everything boxed up to go. A 2009 Tusacny, Grattamacco Bolgheri Rosso and a 2007 Vebeto, Michele Castellani Amarone "Calle Cristi" were served I preferred the Rosso over the Amarone.

My only comment on this particular food dish is at the last few dinners at Delius if it has been a lamb dish it has been the loin. I have not have a rack or chop on a dinner in quite awhile, It could be a cost cutting measure. Lamb chops are ridiculously priced right now. The loin has been excellent quality. The Himilayan Grille has also cut chops from their menu.

Dessert was a Home Made Biscotti (excellent) Gelato and Lemon Ricotta Cake. Very good way to end the meal. Glad I boxed the last dish to go. This was served with a 2007 Puglia, Rivera Moscato Trani Pian Tufara.

My dining companions were the wine reps. Vince I had not seen in years. He had a lot of funny stories about the trip since he was in charge of 40 or so "winos" . He knew who he was dealing with because the meeting place at LAX before boarding the plane was a bar just outside the gate.

This was a good dinner with great conversation. Sorry for the people that missed it. Looking for to the Longoria Wine dinner next month.

Arte Cafe & Domaine de Montille

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I had been looking forward to this dinner for a month and it did not disappoint. Small group, maybe 15 people, Price tag of $100 plus tax & tip keeps people away. But considering the quality of the wines it was worth it. Pours were generous. Arte Cafe can be inconsistent with its food and service. As usual they were late getting the first course out. I find it strange when you have people sitting there for a good 15 to 20 minutes why you can't have a basket of bread brought out right away. But they are not the only restaurant to fail in this manner

We started off with  a Bluepoint Oyster and a Carlsbad Oyster compliments of the restaurant. Richard also let Sam go into the cellar and pick out a champagne to go with the oysters. She brought back a  Henriot Blush Champagne. I could have made the entire meal out of oysters and champagne.

First Course: Diver Scallop on a bed of sauteed spinach with drops of Aoili and a Chili Sauce. Aoili was great but the Chili sauce really through your palate off. Fortunately I put some more Aoili in my mouth and that seemed to cut the burn. Fat always cuts heat.  Scallop was cooked perfectly, This was served with a 2009 Chateau de Puligny - Montrachet, Chassagne Monrachet. Perfect pairing.

Second Course: Seabass with Beurre Blanc Sauce over a bed of sauteed baby kale. Good dish. Wine was a 2009 Domaine de Montille Meursault, Les Dessous, Narvaux. Another very good pairing.

Third Course: Poached Salmon with Pinot Sauce over a bed of mashed peas. Paired with a 2009 Domaine de Montille Bourgogne Rouge. This wine seemed to be a big favorite and one of the reasonably priced wines.  It was very good but I did prefer the next wine overall.

I am glad portion sizes are small because I am starting to feel a little full.

Fourth Course: Duck Breast with Mushroom Diane Sauce. Falvor was good but my piece of duck breast had a bit too much fat left on it and one end was a little tough to cut.. A 2009 Domaine de Montille Beaune Premier Cru, Les Sizes was paired with the duck. Good pairing, excellent wine. I did buy a bottle of this particular wine to cellar.

Fifth Course: Filet Mignon with Bernaise Sauce. Decent piece of meat. Not prime. Sauce was ok but I think I would have preferred none. Served with asparagus and sweet potato fries. I was puzzled on this combination. Paired with 2009 Domaine de Montille Volnay Premier Cru Les Taillepieds. Very good wine.

The person next to me was served a steak that looked like it was the misshappen end on the loin. Small, strange cut. It should never have left the kitchen that way. If I had been served that I would have sent it back. I realize that restaurants need to cut some corners and watch their discards but this was beyond it. This is one of the inconsistencies of Arte Cafe. I have seen it before. Maybe they just do this on "wine dinners" but it is not right.. Another thing they lack is enough servers for a large group. This has always been a problem at Arte Cafe. A couple of people with Wine Country got up to help serve. That should not be the case. People who are first served are finished with their plate before others have been served. The peole at Arte Cafe are nice & friendly but it seems like mamagment has a slight flaw.

Dessert was a Grand Marnier Souffle. Very light and fluffy. Perfectly hot from the over. A good dish.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ante's Croatian Restaurant

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A big table of 11 tonight. I have not been to Ante's in close to a year,  Tonight instead of the meal being pre-ordered we just ordered 3 appetizers and everyone could then order their own dinner from the menu.

We started of with the complimentary tray of celery, carrots, radishes and dip along with never ending baskets of bread. I passed on all of this.

Next out was numerous plates of the garlic-butter shrimp. Always put some of the butter on you plate and sop it up with a piece of bread. It is so full of garlic. Addicting. I took a half of a roll only. Otherwise I could have finished the bread basket myself with this garlic sauce.

A fried calamari sandwich was brought out. Cut into small sections so everyone could get a piece. This would be a great sandwich for lunch.

Then a plate of stuffed cabbage rolls arrived, also cut into smaller portions.

By time I finished those dishes I really had no room to order a full meal. 5 or 6 people ordered a full meal along with desserts. Where they put all this food is beyond me. Your stomach is the size of your fist and the only way it can accommodate more food is to stretch it.   I just cannot handle that. But there are a few big eaters in this group and they had no problem.

The wines tonight were rather good. The highlight being at 1976 Chateau Romer de Hayo Sauterne. I brought a NV Henriot Brut Souverain and a 2007 Huber Chardonnnay. I knew I would be eating seafood.

Rounding out the evening - 2000 Battaglini Propreitors Reserve Select Russian River Zinfandel, (excellent). 2008 Leone Doro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 2005 Chateau Darzac Margaux, 2009 Roessler Ceremonial Russian River Pinot Noir, 2007 Hitching Post Cargassachi Pinot Noir, 2008 Stolpman Estate Syrah, 2004 Saint Cosme Chateauneuf du Pape Syrah, 2007 Perrin &  Fils Carrianne and the last was a NV Provence port. I tasted each wine and all were excellent to good.

Good dinner. Excellent wines. Long drive home.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Seafood Palace

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We are not giving us on The Seafood Palace even through the new Doung Son now called the Golden Star has opened. There are several dishes at the Seafood Palace that are superior to Golden Star's. Plus the size of the restaurant and tables makes it better for a larger group. Golden Star is much smaller and will be more suited to a table of no more than 6. We could do 8 but it would be crowded. Because of all the wine we bring we need a table large enough to accommodate the wine.

We started off with a soup which I neglected to get the name of but it was a new one for us. It was sweet & spicy with noddles and vegetables,

Next came Shrimp with Snow Peas and Salt & Pepper Calamari. Both dishes were excellent.  I had
requested Oysters with Black Bean Sauce. Again and excellent dish. The seafood here is fresh and cooked just perfect.

Then a large platter of Peking Duck was brought out. A good dish but  I will say it  is better at Golden Star because they specialize in  duck.

Spicy Pork Strips, Beef with Fat Noddles and Barbequed Tofu with vegetables rounded out the meal.

For dessert we were served mango pudding. Frankly I prefer the fresh fruit. It cleanses the palate.

No sparkling wine showed up tonight. But we did have several whites on the table. 2007 Stolpman Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 Stolpman La Coppla Blanc, 2009 Brander Purisma Mountain Sauvignon Blanc and a 2008 Brown Estate Betelgeuse Sauvignon Blanc.

A 2008 Ronchi Di Ciallo Rosso, 2005 Fournier Spiga Ribera Del Duro, 2006 Andrew Murray Esperance, 2005 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir, 204 McKeon Phillips BPR Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2011 Artiste Fools In Love Blend rounded out the reds.

Quite a mixed bag of wines.

We have several people that had not attended one of these dinners in quite awhile. I try to rotate through the group so everyone gets a chance but sometimes its a matter of who is available that evening, People have complained because they want to be included in every dinner but the only two that are at every dinner is Henry & I. Henry knows the restaurant owners and gets treated very well. He also does the menu and ordering to ensure we get the best of the ingredients. If some seafood is not the best that evening they will let him know.  I do all the work of coordinating the people which frankly can be a real pain at times .

We enjoy these dinners and will be doing another one soon.

Caviar, Vodka, German Beer & Gondola Ride

Last week I did two events with ABC in Long Beach. Both were OK but not stellar.

First was a Vodka & Caviar tasting. Larsson's Vodka from Sweden, Made with 7 different types of potatoes. Good Vodka. One way I found interesting was  grinding black pepper into the vodka. Took the heat away. I rather liked it. They also made a Moscow Mule with real English Ginger Beer. Good drink. The caviar was not special. Just salmon roe & American Paddlefish. It did show how well caviar & vodka pair. The reps also said that vodka should be drank at room temperature. Most vodka is made with grains and just a few distillers use potatoes.

My main gripe about this was it was "advertised" as 3 stations with food & vodka with models attending at each station. What it turned out to be two female reps from the vodka company. You sat at your table and they poured the vodka and explained the drink. Which was fine but false advertising.

Second event was advertised as a "75 minute Gondola Ride" with German beer tasting. Fine except at the 50 minute mark we turned around and headed for the dock. We were told that we could stay on the gondola at the dock and finish the tasting. The beer was good and the pours were very generous but they provided no food or nibblies and this was at 6:00 on a weekday. I did bring a bag of Chex mix and I am sure glad I did. I did not have dinner yet and needed something. Imre the host from ABC ate most of  the mix. He should have been providing it. Jim brought a dozen cupcakes as it was one of his female friends birthday that week.

So what I have learned is read through the lines when ABC puts out a flyer and discount what they say.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Himilayan - Its Been Awhile

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cora requested a dinner at the Himilayan Restaurant in Sunset Beach. So off we went. It has been a few months since I have been here.. The place was very busy for a Wednesday night. They are now closed on Mondays which makes sense since that is the deadest day of the week for restaurants.. The big highlight of the evening was when the waiter broke the tempered glass top on the table behind us. Sure made a loud noise as it disintegrated.

We started out with Meat Momo, similar to potstickers. The sauce they served was way to spicy for me. I scraped it off after I got my first taste of it. We added Samosas & Fried Onion Rings. The onion rings were quite good. That was a new dish for me.

We rounded out the dinner with Tibetan Lamb, Vegetable Korma, Shrimp Saag, Garlic Chicken and Garlic Naan.

The wines brought tonight were a real mixed bag.

I brought a 2003 Stolpman Hilltops Syrah. It took awhile to open up but then it just blossomed. It was a beautiful tasting wine but alas the next day when I went to drink the balance in the bottle it was gone. I also brought a bottle of Francois Chidaine Mountlouis Sur Loire Brut.

CJ brought a 2006 Rosenblum Carla's Reserve Zinfandel which was excellent. The wines that rounded out the evening were 2007 Chatea Paradis, Syrah/Grenache Blend. 2006 Loring Clos Pepe Pinot. A 2003 Chateau Vignot, St. Emilion Grand Cru.

There were 9 people but 3 were non-drinkers.  All the bottles had a some wine left in them. I have noticed lately that we seem to be taking a little more wine hone with us after these dinners. I don't know if we have cut back on the amount we are drinking or if some of the real heavy drinkers have not been with us.. This is something I have just noticed and became aware of. It will be interesting in the next few months as the attendees change how the consumption goes.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Southern French Wine Dinner At Delius

Friday, March 30, 2012

I was really looking forward to this dinner and it did not disappoint me. Chef Dan whose was just promoted to Executive Chef did the menu but he then left Delius to take a position as executive chef at a new restaurant that will be opening. So Louise is now back in her old position and kept Dan's menu for the most part. The major change was having lamb loin instead of ostrich.

Appetizer was "Ahi Tuna, Pickled Gobo-Root with Wasabi Cream".  The Ahi was seared perfectly and the Wasabi cream was a really good addition to the plate. The wine was a 2010 Eugenie Corbieres Rose. Good pairing.

Next course was "Pork Belly" with Roasted Cashews, Thai Chili Caramel and Micro Cilantro ". I am not a big fan of Cilantro but the micro version I really liked. I am a sucker for good pork belly and Delius does the best. It is like butter in your mouth and you can cut it with a butter knife. So many restaurants give you a steak knife with your pork belly so you know you are in trouble, The two wines that were poured with this dish were 2010 Cazes Cannon du Marechal Blanc and a 2020 Mas de Bressades Rousanne-Viognier.

Third course was" Pan Roasted Quail with Duck Confit, Salisfy Puree, Dried Tart Cherries and Pistachios"  Flavor was excellent.  Served with a 2010 Mas des Bressades Grenache-Syrah and a 2008 Mas L'Avail Terre D'Ardoise which was sourced from 100 year old Carginane grape wines.

Fourth course was "Pan Roasted Lamb Loin with Pancetta, Confit of Potato. Brussel Sprout Leaves and Roasted Veal Jus".  This was good but I prefer chops over loin. I feel chops have much better flavor. Wine was a 2009 Font du Vent Les Promesses Cotes du Rhone.

Dessert was a "Macadamia Semifreddo, Roasted Pineapple, Passion Fruit Cream and Coconut Tuille". Execellent. Served with a 2007 Mas L'Avail Maurt Rouge.  This wine was not to sweet so it was a good pairing. But I still am not an  advocate of sweet with sweet.

Excellent dinner, good wines. Sorry to see Chef Dan leave but it will be nice to have Louise's soups again. No one makes better soups than she does,.

March Wino's Gathering

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This months gathering was held at Stan's in Santa Monica. Not the best day. Rain, wind and terrible driving conditions.  There were times on the freeway that you could not see more than a 1/16 of a mile. The rain came down like a hose was turned on. The clouds were so low that between them and the spray from the water it was a total white out.  But 12 of us braved the elements to attend. Because of the venue being in Santa Monica which is about a 45 minute to 1 hour drive for most of the people in our group there are usually an average of about 15 that show up. So not bad turnout considering  the conditions. But let Stan do one of his "Stan's Cellar Cleaning" when he puts out about 4 cases of his own wine the wine vultures come out of the woodwork to attend.Then about 30 show up.

Appetizers were good and Remy's Trifle she made for dessert was excellent.  The host made a Beef & Gravy dish along with corn beef.  We usually use 1-1/2 ounce pourers to regulate how much wine a person pours but today because of the small group we did without. It was interesting to see how people poured when they were on there own. Most people kept the pours down to 2 to 2-1/2 ounces which is not bad considering that people really do not have a clue what an ounce measurement is. They usually think they have about half of what they actually do. But if you ever attended Weight Watchers way back, you quickly learn what a measurement looks like.

Today's theme was French Cablis & Tuscan Reds. One of the best wines was a 1997 Antinori Tiganello. I brought a 2010 Francine et Olivier Savay-Fourchame 1st Cru Chablis which I felt was showing quite well. The 2006 Campogiovanni Brunello was good also. All the wines were good but those 3 stood out to me.

Thankfully the weather cleared for the drive home,  So another "Gathering" finished and looking forward to Aprils event.