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Restaurant Files: MIRO Kitchen in Fairfield, CT – Obey Your Crave

December 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Sign at MIRO KitchenThere are lots and lots of restaurants in Fairfield County in Connecticut (in 2014, Fairfield county had the second highest number of restaurants per capita in the country, don’t think it is any different in 2016). That means that every dining out night has a great number of choices – in case you are craving Italian, Japanese or creative American, may be  French, Thai or Indian. But what if you still want something else, something different? I might have just a place for you – MIRO Kitchen in Fairfield, Connecticut.

The restaurant describes itself as serving “Pacific Rim” cuisine. On the plate, it means a unique blend of flavors, with elements of Southeast Asian cuisines, Hawaiian, Filipino, Cambodian and other influences, bringing the seesaw popular term “Fusion” to the new height – at least in my personal dining experience. MIRO Kitchen serves truly unique and different food, and to deliver that “unique and different” experience, no effort is spared. To give you one example: our dessert course included Filipino ice cream, called Ube, made primarily out of yam (Ube is a Filipino word for yam), which was absolutely spectacular in flavor and texture. There is only one source of this ice cream on the East Coast, in Jersey City (about 70 miles from Fairfield), which means that every week someone have to take a trip there to get that “unique and different” treat – if you have ever driven around New York city, you would agree that it means “going an extra mile” (pun intended).

Just wanted to give you an example – but it’s way too early to talk about dessert, let talk about our whole dining experience from the beginning. Once again, I visited the restaurant with the group of bloggers, so we really had an opportunity to try lots of different dishes MIRO Kitchen offers and experience the full range of Pacific Rim cuisine.

We started with the cocktails, and you know what – I continued with the cocktails throughout the dinner – don’t think I ever had that many delicious, unique cocktails. The cocktail list at MIRO Kitchen is not that large, so I tried almost all of them: Saketini (Vodka, nigori, cucumber) was excellent, not too sweet; Thaigarita (tequila, Thai chili, calamansi) – love the presentation; Old Fashioned Green Tea (Bourbon, citrus, green tea) – outstanding with noticeable bourbon notes, delicious; Cambodian Mule (coconut vodka, sake, kaffir lime, fresh Ginger) – soft and tasty, Weng Weng (white and dark rum, tequila, gin, vodka, st. germaine, tropical fruit juices) – a nod to the famous Long Island Ice tea, not too sweet with tasty pineapple profile; Hala Kahiki (pineapple vodka, amaretto, sake bubbles) – beautiful presentation, tasty and refreshing.

Now, let’s talk food! We started with the selection of Hors D’Oeuvres. Our first dish was Ahi Bruschetta (Tomato, balsamic glaze, avocado) – great flavors, very nice crunch, following up by
Hanger Sushi (Miso glaze, wasabi crema) – this was a standout, both in the presentation (sushi style) and the flavors, with the sauce served on a side.

Our first official course was a soup sampler. What was almost mind boggling is that in Saimin Noodle Soup (pork belly, mushroom, scallion, soft egg), which is a Hawaiian version of Ramen, the pork belly was still crisp. The Curry Noodle Soup (curry, coconut milk, vegetables) was literally heartwarming – I would gladly eat it any day, but it is an ultimate cold winter night treat.

The soup followed by the selection of Tacos – Tako Taco (braised octopus, roasted corn relish) and Duck Taco (Hoisin, cabbage, peanut sauce), both very tasty.

Our Pacific Rim cuisine exploration continued with Togarashi Lobster Mac and Cheese (Japanese seven spice, panko crust, bacon) with a unique, delicious, spicy flavor and then General Tso’s Cauliflower (sweet chili sauce, crispy potatoes), which could be easily my most favorite dish of the day. I love Cauliflower in any form, and in this dish, it was perfectly cooked and the flavor was simply outstanding – couldn’t stop eating it.

Next up were Lo Mein (Chinese wonton noodles, vegetables), very tasty, then Crispy Shrimp & Grits (coconut shrimp, white cheese grits, hot oil) – another wow dish with unique “fusion” blend of spices on the shrimp. We finished our dinner with Macadamia Kalamansi Cod (wasabi sticky rice) which was simply outstanding.

And finally, the dessert! We had a pleasure of sampling three desserts – Malasadas (miso caramel), Banana Bread Pudding and Mansana Turon (apple spring roll), served with the Ube ice cream – all “wow” flavors, a stunning finish to an absolutely delicious meal.

Dessert Sampler at MIRO KitchenWe had an opportunity to thank Eugene Kabilnitsky and Chef Howard McCall for the exquisite meal and ask them a few questions:

Howard McCall and Eugene Kabilnitsky MIRO KitchenThere you have it, my friends – unique and different experience. In the sea of restaurants, MIRO Kitchen is clearly a standout – from crafted cocktails to unique dessert, offering vegan, dairy free and gluten free dishes – something you owe it to yourself to check out. You can thank me later. Cheers!

MIRO Kitchen
1876 Black Rock Turnpike
Fairfield, CT 06825
Ph: (203) 332-0001
http://www.mirokitchen.com/

MIRO Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wine Dinner at Brasserie Louis

August 30, 2015 17 comments

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania I love traditions. I’m not talking about anything which is covered in dust and lasted for hundreds of years. I’m talking about simple life pleasures which you call traditions as long as it is something you do repeatedly, hopefully with joy and pleasure.

For about 5 years, we get together with group of friends for a weekend in August, which we call an “Adults Getaway”. The program for the “adults getaway” usually includes driving to an interesting small town within 200 miles radius, a wine tasting if there is a winery near by (doesn’t have to be a winery – one year we visited Hudson Distillery, for instance), a tasty dinner, a stay over at a nice B&B – but primarily lots great and fun time together.

When it comes to the tasty dinner, we usually try to control that experience as much as possible – that translates into finding local restaurant which will be willing to host us and work with us to create tasting menu, and ideally, allow us to bring our own wine which we will of course pair with the dishes on the menu.

Brasserie LouisFew weeks ago we got together for our “adults getaway” at Lewisburg in Pennsylvania. Our “anchor” for the trip was visit to the local winery, Fero Vineyards, which will be a subject of a separate post. For the dinner we contacted a few local restaurants, and finally decided to have our dinner at Brasserie Louis.

We didn’t have any specific dining theme in mind, and the suggested menu we received from Scott, owner of Brasserie Louis, exceeded our expectations – 11 different dishes – the dinner looked very promising. Now we had to decide on the wine pairings and go have fun. 11 dishes doesn’t mean we have to have 11 wines – we settled on 7 wines, as two of the desserts really were calling for the two different wine pairings.

The day arrived and we all got together (overcoming some interesting difficulties, such as flat run-flat tire, which appears to be a serious ordeal, especially during long distance travel) and here is the account of the wine dinner with all the details.

Appetizers:

We started with Shrimp Ceviche (diced raw shrimp pieces in lime juice with cilantro, bell pepper, salt and pepper) – very nicely executed dish, great flavor, touch of heat. Our wine pairing was  2014 Fattoria Laila Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC, Italy (13% ABV, $11) – wine had a good open profile with some flower and white fruit notes, but most importantly, it paired perfectly with the flavor of ceviche, complementing and enhancing the dish.

Our second dish was Wild Mushroom Tart (puff pastry with wild mushrooms, Gruyere cheese and shallots topped with greens and a balsamic glaze) – another excellent dish, with peppery arugula melding well together with the earthy mushrooms and adding lightness to the cheese. The wine pairing here was NV Anna Codorniu Brut Rosé, Spain (12% ABV, $13, 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay) – one of my favorite Sparklers, Anna Codorniu always over-delivers, with good structure and good body. Here the pairing was also successful, with the wine complementing the dish very well.

Intermediate:

Our “in-between” dish was Harvest Salad (baby arugula with goat cheese, beets and candied walnuts tossed with a Champagne vinaigrette) – nice crunch, fresh, simple – and we used the same Anna Codorniu with this dish, and again, this was an excellent pairing.

And now, for the Main Course:

We started with Hand formed Crab Cake (lemon Beurre Blanc sauce, green pea risotto) – this was easily the best dish of the evening. You know how often crab cakes contain a lot of other “stuff”, various fillers (corn, peppers, etc)? This crab cake had just honest goodness of a pure, delicious crab meat – I only had anything similar in Maryland, which can be called a crab cake capital with its blue crab. This was just a “wow”dish. Our wine pairing was also excellent – 2013 Jean-Luc Colombo La Redonne Cotes du Rhone, France (13.5% ABV, $20, 70% Viognier, 30% Roussanne)  – Jean-Luc Colombo is a very good producer out of Rhone, and this was one of his higher end wines – plump, full bodied, silky – complemented mild crab cake flavors spot on.

Next up – Black Sesame Crusted Yellowfin Tuna Steak (Yuzu teriyaki glaze) – the dish was nice and simple (tuna was a touch overcooked to my taste, I like it rare), and it paired very well with one of my all-time favorite red wines – 2013 Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir Arroyo Grande Valley, California (13.9% ABV, $20). Laetitia makes an excellent range of Pinot Noir wines, where Estate is an introductory level wine – which makes it perfectly ready to drink young. Delicious California Pinot Noir profile – smoke, plums, touch of earthiness – outstanding. The pairing worked quite well by complementing and enhancing the flavors of the dish.

We continued with Duck a l’Orange (pan seared duck breast, Grand Marnier reduction) – this was an okay dish (my piece of duck was slightly overcooked), but the sauce was excellent and fresh. We used the same Pinot Noir for the pairing, and wine and food worked together well.

Taking a break from the proteins, our next dish was Ratatouille (Provencal vegetable stew of zucchini, squash, wild mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, eggplant and sweet potatoes, touch of Parmesan cheese). This was the dish where the mastery of the Chef combined with amazing Pennsylvania vegetables (I’ve traveled all over East Coast – nothing beats PA vegetables, I’m dead serious) to bring out simply a perfection on the plate – vegetables still had a crunch, and the whole dish was just another “wow” experience.

Our choice of wine for the this and next 2 dishes was 2008 M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Cotes de Roussillon Villages, France (14% ABV, $55/magnum). M. Chapoutier needs no introductions as one of the very best producers in Rhone, and this wine was outstanding – complex, with a touch of roasted flavors, great minerality, lavender. However, there was one problem – this wine didn’t pair well with Ratatouille, and it didn’t pair well with two other dishes. In some cases, it was indifferent (didn’t complement or contrast), and with Ratatouille it was even working against the dish. Well – it is what it is – we still enjoyed the wine and the food – just separately.

Our next dish was Lamb Chops (herb mustard crusted rack of lamb, minted demi-glace) – meat was nicely cooked, and of course lamb and mint jelly is a classic combination.

We finished our main course with Filet Mignon (grilled filet, scalloped potatoes and wilted spinach, truffled veal demi-glace) – the presentation was very interesting, with the steak knife put directly into each piece of the meat. The meat was cooked very well, and overall dish was tasty. And this was probably the only dish where Cotes de Roussillon wine paired marginally acceptable.

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Finally, we are at Dessert!

We had two desserts to finish our evening. Strawberry Zabaione (egg yolks, sugar, Marsala wine, fresh strawberries) was very tasty and not too sweet. We paired it with NV Tütidì Brachetto Piemonte DOC, Italy (7% ABV, $12/1L). Brachetto is a lightly fizzed wine with a nice fruit notes, and it perfectly complements wide range of lighter desserts – and this was a case of a perfect pairing – they were delicious together.

We finished our dinner with Flourless Chocolate Cake, which was paired with Mount Palomar Limited Reserve Port, Temecula Valley, California (18% ABV, $38). Port and Chocolate – do I need to say more?

There you have it my friends – our wine dinner at Brasserie Louis in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. What is left for me to do here is to say Thank You to the owner Scott, Chef Chris Rubino and all the staff at the restaurant who made sure we will have a great time. Cheers!

Brasserie Louis
101 Market Street
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Phone: (570) 524-5559
Facebook: Brasserie Louis

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Grand Simplicity – Gene & Georgetti Steakhouse in Chicago

November 12, 2013 8 comments

Located in the River North District of downtown Chicago, Gene & Georgetti Steakhouse opened its doors in 1941. The restaurant had been open for 72 years – in such a dynamic culinary environment as Chicago, I think it really means something – very few restaurants survive for 6 month after they open, never mind the 72 years.

It is now became customary for me to check the reviews and opinions of the people prior to visiting the restaurant. All three sources I’m generally using (Yelp, TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon) had a consensus of 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5, based on 250+ reviews – this is solid enough in my book. Interestingly enough, recent reviews on Yelp were ranging from “Best steakhouse in the World” to “dated” and “How dare these people are to bring A-1 Steak sauce to my table”. Of course I had no choice but to find out by myself (ahh, it is such a hard work – eating in the restaurant, right? 🙂 )

As you walk through the door, you can see right away – this restaurant has a character. It is not trendy metal/leather/glass/wood type of place. Dark wooden paneling, classic red chairs, soft lighting.

P1010143 Table and chairWe were escorted to our table, and presented with the simple menu (two pages) and, of course, the wine list. As you know, wine is important to me, thus the content of the wine list is definitely of the high interest – both selection and prices. Gene & Georgetti’s wine list is mostly focused on California with some minor international presence – the selection is decent, and the prices are mostly okay. Yes, the selection can be a bit more diverse, and some of the prices can be also improved, but nevertheless, we were able to find a good bottle to drink with the dinner – 2010 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. At $64, this is about 2.5 times retail, which is definitely a reasonable price for that wine in rather an upscale restaurant.

Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon

Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon

This 2010 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (13.5% ABV) had dark garnet color, inviting nose of red fruit. The wine needed a little bit of time to breathe in the glass, then it showed the typical cassis, a bit of chocolate and some plums on the palate, medium to full body, soft tannins, nice acidity and overall good balance – definitely worked well with our dinner.

The bread basket appeared first – a nice piece of baguette and the variety of bread sticks – all fresh, with very tasty crust, just “hard enough”.

Bread!

Bread! (sorry, we ate a lot before I took a picture)

We started with the Fried Ravioli appetizer, which was served with the meat sauce:

Fried Ravioli with Meat Sauce

Fried Ravioli with Meat Sauce

Simple, perfectly fried, very tasty and comfortable – making you literally feel like you are having a home-made meal, just at your family dinner table.

Next was the salad – fresh, crunchy iceberg lettuce with the Beefsteak tomato. I don’t know where the restaurant gets their tomatoes from – but this was probably single best piece of tomato I had in many years – absolutely perfect, fleshy, juicy and outright delicious.

For the dinner, which is served somewhat of a “family style” – with the sides to share – I ordered bone-in filet mignon (you don’t see those on every menu), and my dining companion went for the T-bone. We had sides of fries and grilled asparagus. I asked my steak to be made medium-rare plus – and so it was, with reddish center, perfect crust on outside, good till the last bite. I like also the way this beautiful hulk of meat was served – by itself on the plate, no sauce, no sides, no nothing – just a perfection, a grand simplicity of the great piece of meat. The potatoes looked and tasted as the real home fries – this is how I remember my dad would make home fried potatoes, many many years ago. This was definitely one great meal.

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Try to guess – did we have dessert or not? Yes, good guess – you saw the size of that piece of meat – dessert was completely out of consideration.

The important thing to mention – service. The service was one of the best – very attentive but not overly intrusive. The dirty plates were picked up as soon as they were available, clean utensils showed up just in time – it was the work of many people, perfectly orchestrated.

There you have it – our experience at Gene & Georgetti. This is definitely a restaurant which is unique and different – the ambiance, the food, the service. If Chicago is in your plans, and you like good piece of meat – the address is below, measure it up for yourself. Cheers!

Gene & Georgetti Restaurant
500 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: (312) 527-3718
http://geneandgeorgetti.com/

Gene & Georgetti on Urbanspoon

Can Angry Chef Make Good Food?

October 6, 2010 Leave a comment

This is the sign I came across yesterday while in Los Angeles, in the Westin hotel. Seeing that chef is angry beg the question – how should the food taste like when the chef is angry? Does it help to make it better or will it be worse? The place was closed, so I was trying to find an answer on internet. I found web site for Angry Chef Grill, but it only offers an option of downloading the menu (which looks Italian and decent enough). Further search on Internet yielded some reviews on Yelp (again, quite decent), but didn’t help to solve the mystery of the name. If you know where the name came from or had being to that restaurant – please share your story…

Cafe Pinot in Los Angeles – a Delightful Experience!

October 5, 2010 1 comment

IMG00007-20101004-1940 Don’t know about you, but when I visit restaurants at home or being on the family trip, I usually like to do my homework and know where I’m going and why (which is still no guarantee of a great experience, though). When traveling on business, I usually leave it up to luck. And sometimes that works quite well, as in the case of the Cafe Pinot in Los Angeles.

Let’s start with wine. I really liked wine list – very well organized, and while it had good number of wines, it was easy to navigate – and it had a lot of good wines in the sub $50 category, which is always great.  I also was happy to learn later on that I’m not the only one who liked Cafe Pinot’s wine list – restaurant holds Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Award!

We chose Turley Old Vines Zinfandel 2008 ( $68), simply because Turley Zinfandels are typically 1. good wines and 2. rare and hard to find, on wine lists or in the stores. We were very happy with the choice – this was a beautifully structured wine with all the Zinfandel fruitiness and acidity being in full balance ( I would put my Drinkability rating at 8). Also 15.6% ABV was completely unnoticed, at least until later.

As we were explained by our friendly waitress, the menu is updated all the time with focus on fresh local ingredients. I believe today a lot of places advertise the same approach, but I’m not sure if all those places can execute on it as masterfully as Cafe Pinot. For starter I had a very interesting dish, called “Study of farmers’ market beets”:

The dish included red, white and yellow beets complemented by ruby grapefruit, pistachio, Humboldt Fog goat cheese and watercress – for someone who likes to experiment with food taste combinations – almost a heaven!

Then comes an entree – striped bass“en papillotte” with cioppino broth, accompanied by Dungeness crab, fennel, tomatoes, basil infused risotto:

This dish starts with the beautiful presentation, when the paper (“en papillotte”) is cut in front of you after plate is delivered to the table, so this way none of the enticing flavors can escape before the time. Again, great dish with great combination of flavors (risotto’s texture – ahh!).

To end this story (and, probably, you drooling over it), if you are a foodie – or even not, and you are heading to Los Angeles – make sure you will not miss great experience at Cafe Pinot.

Cafe Pinot on Urbanspoon

Food, Wine and Finger Lakes

October 2, 2010 Leave a comment

It seems that I’m looking at a good prospects of visiting Finger Lakes region of New York quite often over the next four years ( my daughter just started a college there), so I’m gladly taking the opportunity to talk about food and wine in that beautiful part of the country. Finger Lakes region is well known for it’s multiple wine trails. For a long time, the region was mostly known for it’s Riesling wines, and then white wines, such as Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer, now it is slowly changing with the grapes such as Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Baco Noir producing interesting wines.

I have to admit that visiting wineries was not the main purpose of this trip, so with this post I would like to mostly share the experience around the food. Outside of Panera Bread which is consistently good no matter where you go ( I would personally go as far as declaring it the best implementation of “slow food” in the fast food setting), we visited two other places. First, we had a dinner at the restaurant at the Inn called Rogue’s Harbor Inn (it is Bed and Breakfast place). Overall all the food was consistently good, with the focus on local ingredients. The only surprise ( in a bad way) was the smallest fried calamari appetizer I ever saw. All entrees were done very well, so here are some pictures:

Wild Mushroom Ravioli (great mushroom flavours):

Chevon sausage with greens ( local sausage):

Three cheese Chicken Parmesan:

Scallops Solera:

Few notes about the wine: it was great to see a wine list fully composed of local wines – I think it is great when local food is complemented by the local wine. We chose Long Point Ciera Rose 2009, simple and pleasant wine, as it was working well with the variety of dishes we ordered.

Another place we stopped at was Castel Grisch winery. Located in very picturesque place, the winery offers magnificent views of lake and surroundings. As we made it to the winery, of course I had to try the wines. I did try most of the wines, except the ice wines, and unfortunately I didn’t find anything I like, except Gewurztraminer 2007, which was actually done in Alsace style – dry wine with very nice floral and spice expressions. In addition to the winery, Castel Grisch also operates a very nice restaurant, with a good selection of sandwiches and hearty soups, such as Hungarian goulash soup. I would definitely come back there for the food, but most likely not for the wine.

This would effectively conclude the post. As we had good success with the food, I will make an effort to find good wines – I’m sure I will, as I have plenty of time… And until later – Cheers!

 

Rogues’ Harbor Inn
2079 East Shore Drive
PO Box 97
Lansing NY 14882
607-533-3535
http://roguesharbor.com/
Rogue's Harbor on Urbanspoon

The Capital Grille Experience – Great Wine and Dine

September 1, 2010 12 comments

It is interesting how we experience things in life. Some things just happen, and some are long planned and anticipated, may be for no reason at all (as long as we get the experience we want before we cross the finishing line, we are doing good, right?). Same as Norton grape on my “to try” list for a long time ( see my last post on the subject), The Capital Grille was on “to visit” list also for a while, at least from the moment the restaurant opened in Stamford. So finally this experience came through due to a combination of good circumstances – we had a good reason to visit (our anniversary), The Capital Grille was participating in Stamford Restaurant Week (as the  restaurant is expensive, that makes it a lot more affordable), and The Capital Grille was running Master Wine tasting event, with 11 wines assembled by The Capital Grille’s Master Sommelier George Miliotes (you know by now that wines come first in this blog). So we decided that we have a great opportunity to see where “we wine. we dine” motto of The Capital Grille will take us, and there we went.

What a great experience! (should a declare this post complete?). From food to wine to service we had a great time all the way. Talking about food, Wagyu Beef Carpaccio appetizer had an incredible flavor profile combining razor thin slices of Wagyu beef, Parmesan cheese and fresh arugula. Next, I have to say that nice thing about ordering steak done to your liking is that in addition to the standard scale of rare-medium-well done you can specify something like medium-rare plus, which is more than rare but less that medium – and then it is even better when you get the steak precisely the way you wanted ( yeah, I know, this is what we typically expect – but how often our expectations had not being met?). All four steaks had being done perfectly as requested, and the sides were outstanding (for the personal taste, Roasted Mushrooms had being my favorite).

Now, let’s talk about wine. The Master Event selection included 11 wines from California, Spain and Australia, which in turn consisted of 6 reds, 3 whites, sparkling and a dessert wines. I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of wines from 2003 and even 2002. All the wines were very good, and considering that the price of the Master Wine Tasting event was $25, I believe it presented a great value. As this is mostly a wine blog, let’s take more detailed look at the wines included in the this tasting (I’m going in the actual order of tasting). For what it worth, each wine has a “drinkability” rating attached.

The Chook Sparkling Shiraz, Australia – was not tremendously impressive, medium body dry wine with bubbles 🙂 – Drinkability: 7

Whites:

Penfolds Bin 311, Thumbarumba 2008, Australia – I was recently surprised ( in a good way) with the quality of Penfolds Chardonnays. This particular wine was very nice, with hint of oak and vanilla and pleasant finish. Drinkability: 8-

Cambria  Bench Break Chardonnay 2006, Santa Maria, California – This was one of the two “best of tasting” wines – it had a very noticeable amount of vanilla, butter and toasted oak, but all of it extremely balanced. This wine had great finesse. Drinkability: 8

Botani Muscat 2008, Malaga, Spain – beat all expectations. Incredible aromatics, fresh floral and various citrus fruit notes, great acidity – very nice wine overall. Another “best of tasting” wine. Drinkability: 8

Reds:

Triton Tinta del Toro Tempranillo 2008, Castilla y Leon, Spain – This wine was very dense and very earthy. In general, Toro wines are concentrated – and this one didn’t exhibit even a hint of fruit. I would guess it is either a food only wine, or it needs time (probably both). Drinkability: 7

Avante Mencia 2009, Bierzo, Spain – Mencia makes some of the hottest wines right now. This wine was very interesting, light and fruity, with hint of spicy cedar, with substantial tannins and very, very long finish ( did I mention long finish?). Probably will evolve with age.  Drinkability: 7+

Greg Norman Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Coonawarra, Australia – I have to honestly admit that I’m not a big fan of Greg Norman wines. This wine had a lot of eucalyptus notes and some dark berries, but it did lack an “umph” factor. Drinkability: 7

Greg Norman Reserve Shiraz 2003, Limestone Coast, Australia – same story as a wine before – lots of fruit, but not enough substance. Drinkability: 7

Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Sycamore Vineyards 2003, Napa Valley, California – interesting wine, a bit all over the place. Has fresh fruit and fresh acidity, soft tannins. Drinkability: 7

Beringer Bancroft Ranch Merlot 2003, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California – Best of the red wines. Very good fruit, tannins and acidity which leads to overall good balance. This wine was perfect with the steak. Drinkability: 8-

Dessert:

Jorge Ordonez Muscat of Alexandria Victoria #2 2007, Malaga, Spain – nice dessert wine, has lots of honey, white peach and pear notes, has medium acidity and not enough minerality. This wine perfectly complemented Classic Creme Brulee desert. Drinkability: 7

As usual, here are some pictures:

Waguy Beef Carpaccio:

Dry Aged Steak au Poivre with a Courvoisier Cream Sauce:

Roasted Mushrooms (Portabella, Oyster, Shiitake and Crimini):

And last but not least, Steak Oscar:

As I mentioned before, service was excellent, thanks to Mike Sabini – all the wine and food was showing on time and in proper order.

All in all – there are still few days left in both Master Wine Tasting and Stamford Restaurant Week programs – get up and go, use a good opportunity to experience great wine and food – in the words of Capital Grille, wine and dine.

Dixie Grill – Another Place You Have to Know About

August 4, 2010 4 comments

To begin with, I would like to state that by no means I plan to become a restaurant critic and compete with Zagat. But as this blog is about wine, food and life, visiting a restaurant provides perfect mixture of all three elements.

On the way to the the airport, thanks to my another dear friend, Pablo, I was again lucky to experience great food and wine, this time at the place called Dixie Grill Bar. It might be a tourist notion, but same as in the case of Le Champa Del Mar, I believe you have to actually know about that place in order to get there. Coming from outside, it is hard to tell there is a restaurant behind the wall. Inside, the place looks simplistically stylish and has very nice ambiance. The only thing which is out of place, in my opinion, is paper napkins instead of actual cloth napkins – I would not even think that I will pay attention to something like this, but it appears that I do.

Anyway, let’s talk about wine. Based on Pablo’s recommendation, we went with wine called Yiron 2006, from Galil Mountains. The wine is a  Cabernet-based blend (Cabernet Sauvignon with addition of Merlot and Syrah). It has a nose of dark berries with some cedar notes, and on the palate has a good balance of fruit, tannins and acidity. All in all, it was a very good wine which was evolving with the time during dinner, so it was actually a very good choice. For those who knows my rating system by now, I will rate it at…

Drinkability: 7+

Few more notes about this wine. First, it is available in US, so it would be possible (and worthwhile) to find it. I also want to mention that Daniel Rogov, famous Israeli wine critic gave this wine a 91 rating ( which is good). And on the subject of Israeli wines, Gary Vaynerchuck, a wine internet celebrity from Wine Library, recorded an episode on Israeli Kosher wines with Daniel Rogov, and you can see it here.

And for the food – as usual, a picture worth a thousand words, so here we go:

Beef Carpaccio

Fried truffle Gnocchi with mushrooms

Read more…

Le Champa Del Mar – Keep the Cava Coming

August 4, 2010 7 comments

Let me start from a thought, which is not original at all – it is great to have friends (huh, wow, who would’ve even thought, right? :)). My dear friend Kfir, was taking an amazing care of me in Israel, ensuring the culinary experiences. After the great time at Norma Jean, he brought me into another one of his favorite places – Le Champa Del Mar, cava bar.

LeChampaDelMar

The place is more or a less a hole in a wall – you have to know where you are going in order to get there. Once inside, you will find a bar and a few tables – and lots of delicious foods in the perfect bar format – tapas. In the best traditions of the Spanish cuisine, there are lots of great choices, all in the tapas, or “small snacks” format – cheese and olives, octopus, chorizo, Serrano ham and so on and so on, all watered down with variety of Cava – a sparkling wine from Spain.  LeChampaDelMar_cavavallformosa

 Cava is the only wine served at Le Champa Del Mar, hence the name “Cava Bar”. There is about a dozen of varieties, starting from simple Brut and going into Reserve Cavas. The great thing about Cava in general is that while the bubbles a slightly bigger than in the classic champagnes, it typically has more life in the glass compare to the equal level of champagnes ( and a lot cheaper!). We had a Brut Nature Classic and Brut Rose Classic, coming from Vallformosa winery in Spain. While Brut Rose tasted somewhat flat, Brut Nature had a great balance of acidity and yeasty fresh bread flavours, perfectly complementing “full-bodied” tapas (in case anyone is interested in my rating, I would put Drinkability at 7). I guess the only issue was the fact that all those Cavas where way easy to drink, and therefore disappearing very quickly… But we managed to overcome this challenge quite successfully.

  And to give you better idea about Le Champa Del Mar, here are few more pictures:

LeChampaDelMar_tapas

Tapas Selection at Le Champa Del Mar

 

LeChampaDelMar_cavabottles Cava is popular at Le Champa Del mar

 

LeChampaDelMar_smokedduckbreast Smoked duck breast – very delicious!

 

Just to conclude – another great place for food and drink – find it and enjoy!

Norma Jean – Best Place for Scotch and Food in Israel (and Beer too!)

July 30, 2010 9 comments

Let’s set things straight – this post will be more of a photo report. The words fall short to describe an amazing experience at Norma Jean, Bistro/Bar in Tel-Aviv. The best place to sit is in the bar, as stuff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable. You can start with the beer, which comes form all over the world, and needless to say, each served in its own proper glass. While you enjoy your first beer and glass and waiting for the food, your eye can rest on the walls full of scotch:

Among many bars, I’ve seen those where you will pay $500 for a shot, and but I never saw the one with such a selection of really great scotches which you can actually afford!

And then comes food – all fresh, succulent and great tasting:

Bread with Feta Cheese

calamari

and sausages

Of course the next step is the scotch. Based on the friendly recommendation, we couple of new scotches which we never had before. First one was coming form Speyside, a belnd of three different single malts, called Monkey Shoulder in the honor of those who developed a “monkey shoulder” condition throwing peat with the shovel, while making a great scotch for the rest of us:

Monkey Shoulder – very smooth and delicate, with the hint of smoke at the end

The next one was Laphroaig Triple Wood, matured in the 3 different kinds of wood barrels, as you can see on the label:

The smoke flavor and bite on this one were immense, like breathing the air coming from the smoker (or may be just chewing on the cigar :)). Too strong by itself, addition of 3 drops of water made a miracle – the scotch opened up beautifully, with big flavor profile and lots of depth.

And then… yep, a special dessert for the scotch lovers! Tartufo, made out of the best Belgian chocolate with addition of pepper and scotch:

Great way to finish the evening of great tasting food and drinks.

I know that the picture worth a thousand words, and this is why you can see a lot of pictures. However, one should really experience the taste, this is where picture fails short – and this is why, if you even the smallest opportunity – head to Norma Jean in Tel-Aviv, you will not be disappointed.

Cheers!