Category Archives: Wine

Amazing Meal at Bazaar

Last night, my girlfriend Michelle and I had the opportunity to have a fantastic meal. See, I am in this kind of “wine fraternity” and members are responsible throughout the year for chairing dinners. I am co-chairing one in January, the theme is Spanish (dinners often follow a theme, be-it tastes such as “Spanish” or a wine maker is brought in, blah blah blah….) so we have been having meals at Spanish themed/style restaurants as we narrow down our choices and work with the chef on a menu and wine pairings. Last night’s meal was at Bazaar, the restaurant by Jose Andreas in Los Angeles.

First let me say that it’s a great space. Large, lots of tables and activity with dining areas off from the central bar. It has some noise, but isn’t that the case with all trendy restaurants these days, yet here you can still here your date talk :-). We also got to take a look at the SAAM room, which they have for private parties. That was the opposite of the main areas, being quiet and subdued with natural tones and wood paneling, etc.

Before I get to the menu, I should say it’s the folks made last nights meal. By that I mean that the food was great, but the staff made it phenomenal. Their attention to detail in every aspect was nothing if not superb. The sommeliers helped us with our wines and gave us some suggestions for our dinner (and I look forward to more help… I need a white to start with), the chef paid a visit and discussed the menu… even Jose Andreas was in the house and cooking too, wearing his whites. Everyone spent a considerable amount of time wanting to know more of what we wanted/needed/were interested in for our wine group dinner, all the while making sure that this experience was fantastic….

Well they did their jobs :-)!! I haven’t taken the time to see what of this is actually on the menu and what was done for us and the tasting menu, here it is in all it’s glory, but please understand that these short descriptions just don’t do the items justice, I was trying to write and not be rude at the table…

  1. Artichoke chips
  2. White asparagus with yogurt and olive
  3. Lox and cream cheese – a small cone with herb cream cheese in the bottom with salmon roe on top
  4. Watermelon with tomato caviar (the heart of the tomato)
  5. Bun with caviar and lemon foam
  6. Philly cheesesteak
  7. Brussel sprouts
  8. Caprese – the mozzarella was liquid and sphere-ized. think a balloon of mozzarella filled with liquid mozz. :-)… and even the tiny little tomatoes had been blanched and skinned so that they melted in your mouth for this great burst of flavor. Yum!
  9. Shrimp cocktail – I am not a big fan of seafood, but I’d order this again in heartbeat. This would make me eat shrimp regularly… It had just a hint of heat with some garlic and a pepper on top.
  10. Calamari – in ink…
  11. Tuna civiche
  12. Roasted red pepper
  13. Chicken with dates and mustard
  14. Steak with pepper confit
  15. Wild mushrooms and rice
  16. Lamb with mushrooms and potato
  17. Cauliflower couscous
  18. Pork Sausage with white beans
  19. Nitro coconut
  20. Hot chocolate mouse
  21. Chocolate chip cookies

And that was the food…. We had to wash it all down, so this is what we drank.

  • 2007 Bodegas Los Bermejos Lanzarote Diego Sec
  • 2006 Mas Doix Priorat Salanques
  • 2004 Bodegas y Viñedos Alión Ribera del Duero
  • 2005 Bodegas Pintia (Vega-Sicilia) Toro Pintia
  • 2004 Bodegas AAlto Ribera del Duero AAlto
  • One more for desert, but i can’t find it anywhere… a sweet white desert wine from Bodegas Los Bermejos as well.

This was a really fabulous meal, I can’t express that enough. Folks should make this a regular stop for a quick nosh or the extravaganza that was our meal. We sat down at 6:30 and left at almost midnight, and it was worth every minute!

The Start of a New Wine & Food Season

menu_xiv.jpgSo it’s the beginning of a new season of a group of gentlemen that have been dining and drinking together, many of them for decades…. They have been gracious enough to allow me into the fraternity, which was far more nerve racking than it was in college, and last night’s event starts the new season. It was an evening of wine from Scholium with Abe Schoener (the winemaker) in attendance held at Michael Mina’s XIV.

For the wines, I can say little more than fantastic. I was introduced to Scholium wines a couple of years ago by a friend, and am very glad that he did. I have bought a number of his wines for both drinking and cellaring, and have enjoyed them all. Abe does some really great things with a grape and takes risks and chances that many don’t, often to spectacular results. Here is what we drank with the meal….

While nothing is ever perfect (a couple of the wines were poured “backwards” and I got a bit lost as to what was what and got re-poured) the wine service was really nice and they did a great job juggling what was a gazillion glasses. We started with the champagne which was very unique. It comes from some clippings of Pinot Noir from England that was brought to Napa and then moved into the whites that went with the first three courses. We then had the next two wines with the halibut and the salmon, and finished the meal off with the reds…. The Babylon Tenbrink is a BIG wine, one of the biggest you’ll drink.

As for the food, you can click through to see the entire menu, it was good. It’s hard to cook for a group of 30, so a couple of the things came out luke warm, but the taste was always there. A couple of outstanding winners: the sweet corn soup, Kobe shortrib and the explorateur. When it came to these dishes, they are some of the best of their kind that I’ve had. Truly outstanding examples.

In the end it was a great evening and I really enjoyed myself and the company, and I hope that the others enjoyed themselves as well. There will be about 9 more events throughout the season and I’ll try to post about ’em as we go. I will be co-chairing an event in January, with a Spanish theme…. 🙂

2005 Bordeaux Tasting

I was invited to a tasting of 2005 Bordeaux’s tonight by the International Wine and Food Society. It was the 449th gathering of this particular chapter. A great group of people and a lot of fun. The food was quite tasty and the wine was even better!
Below is a wine list of what we tasted, their ratings and the retail prices. The event was sponsored by Bob Myerson of the Wine Warehouse, and to him I say thank you. There aren’t many opportunities to drink at a tasting like this and compare this many wines, yet alone wines of this caliber!
The tasting was done blind, and if I said I wasn’t a bit intimidated doing it blind, I would be lying. At the end of the tasting, you were to rate what you thought was your top five, they tallied up the scores and announced them later on.
Again, it was a blind tasting, so you didn’t know what was what…. My score card that I turned in rated them in the following order (1 to 5 as my top five)… E, F, C, J, A. The winners, after all scores had been tallied were: J, E, I, F, H
So to put it into real terms….
1. Chateau Mouton Rothschild (J) — which I rated as 4th
2. Chateau Pavie (E) — which I rated as 1st
3. Chateau Palmer (I) — which didn’t rate 🙁
4. Chateau Monbousquet (F) — which I rated 2nd
5. Reignac (H) — which i didn’t rate 🙁
So all in all, I didn’t do too bad…. got some, missed some. If you want to know what was what and the full list, their RP ratings and retail prices, click on the pdf image below and you can see our tasting list that was given out afterwards, so we knew what we drank.
An amazing evening that I am very, very happy that I was invited to!
2005 Bordeaux Tasting is Released For Sale in the iPhone App Store!

So a couple of friends/buddies/partners and I have done an iPhone App (opens iTunes) called… It’s all about wine! It is a front end to the worlds largest repository of wine data, vineyards, bottles and reviews and doesn’t just give the ability to lookup wine info, but you can also manage your cellar if you want.
We have gone to great lengths to try to incorporate all the stuff that you would want in, ’cause this is an application that is designed for, and by the people that use it (the three of us have extensive wine collections, but we’re working on making them bigger!) But we also understand that not everyone uses software in the same way, and there are some features that are in the works that will be available in the next release (coming in a couple weeks or less, hopefully).
So please, go out and buy, use the app, give us feedback and tell us what you think or what you want in the next version that we haven’t thought of yet :-)! We really do want to know, are totally consumer centric and will do our best to incorporate all feasible requests :-).
It’s pretty cool right now, we think… not only does it do all the lookups and display reviews, prices and ratings from, but it also is set up to “announce” what you are drinking to Twitter if you use that service too. So your friends can watch what you are drinking in real time, and drink with you :-)….
I hope you enjoy and find it as useful as we do!
By the way, the name of the application is the same as the domain, so you can go to and learn about it there!

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar’s Soft Openning

I ate at the “soft openning” of my friends restaurant last night, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar located at 1119 Wilshire Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310) 393-7050. It was a soft openning, where they are trying to work out the kinks, etc. so I won’t comment on much of the bad (and there really wasn’t much of it), but I will say that the restaurant is quite loud….

But now the good. We had…
Fra’ Mani All Natural Salumi with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese and Toasted Bread – $12
This was totally tastey. Smooth and silky salami, without a terribly strong or overpowering taste and a beautiful small hunk of goat cheese. It was served with a drizzled of extra virgin olive oil over the salumi, with crisp toast, but not to crisp as to create “mouth meat” and a couple cornichons and olives.

Mixed Moroccan Salad Plate with Grilled Flatbread and Harissa – $14
A nice plate with some really good little treats…. pickled beets, marinated mushrooms, hummus, etc. All homemade, including the harissa which was really good (I love harissa). Small amount for the price, but nice to share between two people, just the right amount for each to have a taste or two of everything.

Pan-Roasted 1/2 Boneless Chicken with Roasted Root Vegetables, Sauteed Bitter Greens and Pan Jus – $22
A really good peice of chicken, done a bit differently than is common. I liked the half boneless thing, and it had a nice crispy skin which is always the mark of good chicken (and it was nice and moist as well). The pan jus was really good and not too strong as to overpower the chicken. Liked the roasted root veggies, but could have lived without the bitter greens. Never have liked them and I grew up in the south :-).

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Sauteed Pea Tendrils and Crispy French Fries – $22
A nice steak that came out cooked to perfection. Sliced nicely and presented on the plate with shoestring fries. It really reminded me of Steak and Frittes in a french bistro, but American.

Apple Huckleberry Crisp with Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream – $8
This was really, really good. I make personal sized crisps, crumbles, etc. all the time for dinner parties. They are great tasting, easy to make and guests love ’em (as long as they don’t burn their hands on the porcelain bowl…). So I know my crisps, and this was a good one. I could have used a bit mroe crumble on the top, but it was fabulous in it’s taste. I understand that the pastery chef from Luques/AOC is consulting/doing the sweets

2004 T. Solomon Wellborn, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara – $11

2005 Morgan, ‘Cotes Du Crow’, Santa Barbara – $12

In the end, I look for it to hopefully do well. And living within walking distance, I can see myself heading over there for a burger (it looked amazing… Rustic Canyon ‘Cast Iron’ Burger with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Point Reyes Blue Cheese – $14. Although I didn’t have it, a woman next to me ordered it. Big and juicy at the right pricepoint, etc.) or for the steak and a glass of wine.

I will be back, and I can see myself becoming a regular 🙂

Chateau Cheval-Blanc

Last night with dinner, I shared a bottle of wine that a good friend brought. It was a 1986 St.-Emilion from Chateau Cheval-Blanc. It was fabulous! Velvety smooth, a bit smokey, with great berry flavors. Here is what “Wine Spectator” has to say about it….

Score: 98

Country: France
Region: Bordeaux

Good concentration of plum, currant and berry aromas. It crams all those characteristics into a suprisingly lithe and elegant structure. This may age past our lifetimes. Best after 1999.