Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seal Beach Winery & Francos

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Met at a small winery tasting room, Seal Beach Winery, in the Los Alamitos area. 11 of us sat in the barrel room and had a great tasting. The winemaker, Mike, was very informative.  Of the 5 we tasted all were good but not great. They put out a nice spread of appetizers for us and everything was decorated for Christmas. I plan on going back some weekend soon and taste some more on their list. May change my mind about the quality.

Next we headed down the street to Franco's. Our favorite Italian restaurant. We had no need for appetizers as we already had some ,so right to dinner we went. Almost everyone had the butternut squash soup which was excellent. I ordered the fillet which was cooked perfectly.

Margie had arranged for everyone to bring a bottle of wine for a gift exchange. She also handed out "favors" which turned out to be a  soap shaped and decorated like a chocolate Christmas tree and "champaagne" lip balm. A nice touch to end the evening.

A big selection of wines are spread across the table.

NV J. Lorenza Champagne,
NV Pommery Champagne
2006 Il Falcon Riserva red blend
2006 Mocali Brunello di Montalcino - excellent
2010 Macchia Amorous. Lodi, Sangiovese
2009 Frescobladi Castiglioni Chianti
2008 Gattavecchi Vino, Nobile di Montepulciano
2010 Palmima Tocai Friulano
1982 Ricon Famoso
2000 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 La Castellina Riserva, Squarclalupi, Chiantio Classico
2011 Colle Solato Umbria Ind:ozione Gergrofica Tipica Blend
NV. Windsor Port. This wine was at least 30 years old and was excellent. Someone gave this to me several years ago and they had had it for a least 20 years or more.

Gondola Through Naples

Thursday, December 13, 2012

ABC Wines in Long Beach hosted a gondola ride through Naples to see all the fantastic Christmas decorations the homeowners in that area do every year. The big parade is on December 15 this year.

Three wines and three beers were served. I frankly thought all the wines were terrible. The beer was good.

The company was fund. Four younger females who really got into the mood were great. The gondoliers both sang and it was a great evening.

Seafood Palace

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The "boys" and I met tonight for a year end dinner at the Seafood Palace in Westminister. Six of us.

As always the food, company and wines were good.

We started out with the sweet/sour soup which I had two bowls of. That is probably why I came to a stand still eating later.

Next was salt & pepper calamari. The coating was a little thicker than normal but the quality of the calamari was excellent.

Shrimp with Chinese broccoli was served.

Stir fried lobster with noodles was served and we made short work of it.

Next was a deep fried tofu with vegetables and pork.

Last was a beef with spinach.

2002 McKeon Phillips BPR Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir
2006 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir
NV Robert Moncuit Grand Cru Champagne
2006 Justin Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Ladera, Howell Mtn, Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Robert Mondavi, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Testarossa, Garys Vineyard, Pinot Noir

Champagne Tasting at Total Wine

Wednesday, December 5, 2012.

Margie had a group of ten and her friend had a mass of females attending a private Champagne tasting at Total Wine in Huntington Beach.

The other group was rude, loud and generally not respectful of the other people or the person leading the seminar. I hope I never encounter that horde of "b-----s" again. They really ruined a good tasting for the rest of us.

The seminar was very informative and the champagnes were all good.

Among the wines that we had the strand out for me was a Robert Moncuit Grand Cru Brut. This winery sells their grapes to Salon in the years that Salon makes champagne. They do not make champagne every year. I bought a couple of bottles but I think I need to go back and get six or so. Excellent bubbly.

Christmas Brunch

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Had 30 people in today for a brunch. Do this every year but at my age this may be my last or I will have to scale the number of people invited down.

Weather turned and it started to drizzle so all the wines had to come into the house. Makes it very tight.

I put out 4 egg casserole dishes, ham and sausage & peppers. We had so many side dishes brought but the really big hit was Margie's biscuits & gravy. Everyone raved about them

Numerous desserts. We could have fed a 100 people with all the food that was brought.

People let about 5:30 today, probably because of the weather, That made it nice for me to be able to clean up and get to bed at a decent time. I am still working so I need my sleep.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Back out to Anaheim to the Romanian restaurant, Dunera. Have not been here in a couple of years. Looking forward to it even tho I am starting to feel the effects of numerous dinners in a short period of time and I have 30 people coming in for Brunch tomorrow.

We started out with several appetizers and then everyone ordered their own main entree. I had the cabbage rolls which are excellent. Six rolls served with "corn meal & sour cream". Like Polenta or grits. It is the main starch dish of Romania.

Good wines were on the table. 2001 Sextant Blend, 2006 Sea Smoke Southing, 2005 Beau Carine Estate, Napa, Cabernet Franc, 2006 Testarossa Sleepy Hollow , Pinot Noir, 2009 Canyon Road, Pinot Noir, 2006 Sequal, Washington State, Blend and a Jaffelin Cremant Rose, Brut which was excellent.

Champagne Dinner at Delius

Friday, November 30, 2012

The annual "champagne" dinner was held tonight at Delius. Usually sparkling wines but last year it was all champagne so it varies.

Kevin Butler of Henry Wine group along with his wife and Megan from Henry Wine group were at the table I was seated at. I have not seen year in a couple of years. He is one of the most knowledgeable people about wine and food I have come across. A truly wine geek. His wife told me that their youngest son is just like him only the kids interest is in trains.

We started out with an Amuse: Coho Salman Tartare, Bini, Scallion Creme Fraiche - excellent. A 2010 Kila Cava, Spain was served.

First Course: Kumamoto Oyster, cucumber mint granite and Fanny Bay Oyster, yasu granite.  What can I say about oysters. I could eat a dozen with no problem. A Les Rocailles Savoie Brut, France was paired with this dish.

Second Course: Winter Squash Soup, spiced croutons, cinnamon foam. Glad to see Louise is back cooking the wine dinners. I missed her soups. Wine was a Bisol "Jeio" Rose , Italy

Third Course: Duck Confit, swiss chard, cipollini onions, cherry grastrique. OK dish but I was not wild about it. Served with a 2011 Pederzanna Lambrusco Grasparossa, Italy.

Fourth Course: Pan Roasted Rack of Lamb, pommes puree, root vegetables, lamb demi & micro int. Good dish. Paired with a 2000 Graham Beck Rose RD, South Africa

Dessert: Champagne Poached Pear, white chocolate mousse napolean. Excellent. Wine was a Graham Beck Demi-Sec, South Africa.

Food was good, wines were good and Delius is all decked out for the holidays.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oliver who set up this dinner, bailed. So Terry, his two daughters, husband, boyfriend and I met at the Himalayan for dinner. It was already on Terry & my calendars so we were not going to sit at home.

The Himalayan has been written up at least three times in the last month in the papers  The food is excellent. We need to go more often

We ordered Lamb chops, Aloo Gobi , Malta Kofta, Chicken Curry, Shrimp Saag. garlic nann.

All the dishes were good and I am glad to see lamb chops starting to appear on menus again.

Wines we consumed tonight were: 2001 Stolpman Angeli, 2010 R2 Grenache Blanc, 2006 Da Na Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 Krupp Brothes Stagecoach Cabernet Sauvignon.

Brix Wines & Fish Camp

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Margie's monthly wine event was held tonight. A wine tasting with appetizers at Brix Wines in Sunset Beach. 5 wines and appetizers for $20.  Wines were good for the price and the food was very good.

After the tasting at Brix we went across the street to the Fish Camp for dinner. A fish market & restaurant run by King's Fish House.

I had the sand dabs which were very good along with sauteed spinach and garlic bread. You get 2 sides of your choice with dinner. Everyone seemed to like what they ordered and all said they would come back .

Wines tronight were:
2006 Domaine Zind Humbrechet Pinot Blanc
2009 Zocker, Edna Valley, Gruner Veltliner
2010 Prieure de Montezargues Rose
2009 Poppy. Monterey, Pinot Noir
2010 Signaterra Bella Luna, Russian River , Pinot Noir
Laguna Canyon Brut sparkling
2009 Clos Pepe barrel fermented, Sta Rita Hills, Chardonnay
2006 Alfonso Curran, Rancho Vina, Pinot Noir

555 Restaurant

Saturday, November 16, 2012

6 of us met tonight at 555 East in Long Beach. 555 is a steak & chop house and the food is really good, Not cheap but good.

I had the filet and it was excellent. Some side order of vegetables were ordered. But there was plenty food because we had ordered appetizers before. Raw oysters and fried calamari. I have  a problem with side orders of vegetables. They are usually "odd" to me but others enjoyed them.

Wines tonight were abundant and excellent.

2005 Chateau Belan St Estephe Burgundy
2006 Da Na Napa, Caberent Sauvignon
2007 Riocioli Little Hill Block, Pinot Noir
2008 Dusty Goose Pinot Noir
2006 Jose Dhondt Champagne
2010 Peter Michael Le Carririe Chardonnay
2005 Krupps Brothers Stagecoach Cabernet
2000 Pride Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Nickel & Nickel Branding Iron Cabernet Sauvignon
2001 Stolpman Angeli

Marche Moderne & Clos Pepe

Monday, November 12, 2012

A private dinner was held at the Marche Moderne in South Coast Plaza (third level near Nordstroms) with Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe. The invite came out when I was on vacation and I did not think I was going to able to attend because it was sold out by time I got back and saw it. I did contact the host to let him know I was interested if there would be an opening for one person. Fortunately for me Wes Hagen ran interference and got me a seat.

There was 20 people attending. Five women ad 15 men.  I was seated at Wes' table along with his brother and arm candy, Wes' roommate from college, the wife of the host and a couple from Palos Verdes. Good conversation and we found out a lot of interesting details of Wes' life from his brother and roommate. It was fun.

First Course: "Salade Composee", hearts of palm, cucumber, tomatoes, asparagus, ham, P'tit Basque, avocado & vinaigrette. This was very good.

Second Course: Manila Clams Comme Dans Un Restaurant Japonais - white miso, sake, un deglace de poulet, garlic & thyme.

Third Course: Choice of Black Pepper, Blis Maple Syrup & Bourbon Roasted Long Island Duck Breast with black mission figs dressed with Saint-Agur & Marcona almond, une petite cacotte of French Flageolet. OR Shelton Farms Chicken Coq Au Vin, cremini mushrooms, cipollini onion, honey bacon and angel hair pasta. I had the duck and was very impressed by it.

Dessert: Artisan Cheese, fig jam, quince preserve, pecans & baguette.

Wines poured were the Clos Pepe Sparkling Pinot Rose, Homage to Chablis Chardonnay, barrel fermented chardonnay, 2 years of Pinot Noir and Axis Mundi Syrah.

Dinner was excellent and obviously the wines were also.

Pinot Days at The Shrine

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Held a "vip" ticket to this event. Gets you into a seminar hosted by 4 winemakers and early admission to the "grand" tasting before the crowd is let in. This is my 4th year attending this event. This year it was moved to the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. I had not been inside the Shrine in probably 30 years or more.. It still is a magnificent showpiece. The last three years the event was held in the Barker Hanger at the Santa Monica Airport.

Our seminar was hosted by Peter Cargasacchi, Scherrer Winery and two others that I do not recall their names over a month that I attended.

A smaller number of wineries this year. I would assume since the date was pushed from January to November that was a factor. Wineries are still harvesting and do not like to do these types of events in the middle of the harvest rush. I also found out that in addition to all the wine they have to bring for 2,000 people to taste they  have to pay $500 for a spot.  So aside from the rental of the auditorium, the help and providing a few other minor items the promoters are doing OK with this event. My "vip" ticket was $105. The general admission was $85. Times that by 2,000 people.

I did find a couple of new ones that I was impressed with. Pence Ranch in Buellton and Reuling Vineyard in Forestville. Good wines.

Growers Champagne Tasting

Friday, November 9, 2012

Attended a "grower's " Champagne tasting at Wine Country.  These are always fun. You are exposed to small producers that generally you would not look at in the store because they are not recognizable names. Can't remember who was on the list but I did pick up three more grapes to add to my quest for 400 varietals tasted.

Wine Makers Dinner - Lido at Dolphin Bay

Friday, November 2, 2012

This is the way to start a vacation. Left the OC about 9:20 am, stopped in the Sta Rita Hills to pick up wine at Huber and visit Norm & Traudl then up the coast to Avila Beach, Checked in about 4:30 and rushed to make the 5:30  "reception" at the Lido restaurant in The Dolphin Bay resort at Shell Beach. This was a dinner hosted by the San Luis Obispo vintners association.

Talked with several people and found it interesting that their were 2 groups from Wisconsin. Neither group knew the other. 

 After several glasses of wine and numerous past appetizers we were seated for dinner. Tables of 8 with a winemaker at each table. Since this was reserved seating I had asked to be put at Mike Sinor's table. He is the winemaker at Ancient Peaks and has his own label Sinor-Lavalle. Small production on his own label. About 300 cases per year total. I have been buying wine from him for quite a few years now.

First Course:  Salmon Carpaccio with grilled peach, lime creme  fraiche and almond tuille. Wine was a 2011 Zocker Gruner Veltliner. The peach really made the salmon stand out and the Veltliner was a perfect pairing.

Second Course: Pan Roasted Breast of Duck, black pepper and strawberry compote. It was duck - good quality but nothing spectacular. Paired with a 2009 Claiborne & Churchill Runestone Pinot Noir and a 2009 Laetitia Les Galets Pinot Noir. The Clairborne was by far the better wine.

Third Course: Roasted Leg Of Lamb with beets, fingerlings, greens and pomegranate reduction. Again a very good quality of lamb but again nothing that screamed to me. Wines were 2010 Saucelito Canyon Estate Zinfandel and 2010 Ancient Peaks Zinfandel.  The Ancient Peaks was the better of the two.

Dessert: Brown Sugar Pound Cake with roasted pear and vanilla bean ice cream. This was simple but very good. Served with a 2010 Sextant Winery Late Harvest Sauvignon Gris. Wine was not too sweet and went well the the pound cake.

Good dinner and good conversation. I had a real interesting mix of people at my table. This was the first year they did this dinner in conjunction with the San Luis Obispo Wine Fest. It would be nice if they continued this part of the wine fest.