Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by rlm

  1. You're welcome. I was secretly hoping to hear from others who have been to Bouchon in Napa to see what their experience was like. On the SW board, they stated Keller's Bouchon in Vegas was disappointing too. I wonder why a chef with a reputation as a perfectionist would put his $ and name behind something that doesn't seem up to his standards.
  2. Napa: I could spend weeks here and be deliriously happy, but I'd read that you should not try to visit more than 3-4 wineries in a day and our time was limited. I chose Cakebread Cellars, as I have been a fan since '94 after trying a bottle of the '90 Napa Cabernet. I was unable to find any of their wines for years, and when I finally did, it was only a bottle or two here-and-there. We chose Andretti Winery because my husband is a fan of Mario's and we'd therefore sampled and enjoyed some of his wines already. Andretti: Our Bay Area friends were waiting for us in the parking lot at 9:30 and had fresh crusty baguettes for us stuffed with salami and pepper jack cheese. We waited for the 10:00 opening and found we were the only ones in the tasting room. Since we had tried most of the "regular" wines (sangiovese, chardonnay, merlot, sauv blanc), we both tried the reserve tasting of the new Montona wines (chardonnay, merlot, cabernet). The young lady working in the tasting room was very friendly, but did not seem extremely knowledgeable (she referred us to the laminated tasting notes on the bar). She indicated they could only give tours for 6 or more people since they were under-staffed at this time of the year. I was surprised that they did not have any palate cleansers such as crackers available. I am more of a red wine aficionado, but surprisingly prefer Andretti's whites to the reds. After we finished our 3 tasting portions, we each ordered a glass of the Montona chardonnay and retired to the patio to sip wine and look through a book for dining options. We did not feel we had time to drive to another location for lunch due to our 1:00 appointment at Cakebread, so we decided on an early dinner at Bouchon (5:30). Cakebread: We drove here a little early and were able to get in on an earlier tasting group, as well as make arrangements for a "more comprehensive" tour and tasting later in the afternoon. A knowledgeable and personable gentleman named Laurie led us into the barrel room and we stood in a semi-circle and tasted 7 wines. He gave verbal descriptions of the wines and also handed us a packet of tasting notes for all of the wines except the merlot. The favorites of the group were the 2002 Chardonnay Russian River (which outshone the Napa Valley Chardonnay) and the 2002 Rubaiyat (a spicy blend of pinot noir and syrah that is only available at the winery and is being officially released this month). Not being wine drinkers and also being designated drivers, our friends took sips and then poured their remainders into our glasses. After plowing through the 2002 Sauv Blanc, 2002 Napa and Russian River Chardonnays, 2001 Pinot Noir, 2002 Rubaiyat, 2001 Napa Merlot, and 2001 Napa Cabernet, I wasn't sure I needed a second tasting in the afternoon. Turned out there wasn't much to the "comprehensive" tour other than walking around and looking at the garden and pictures of the Cakebread family on the wall (seeing as how there's not much going on this time of year). The second tasting was outside under some trees and consisted of the same wines. I never thought I would refuse pours of Cakebread, but I only tried my favorites on the second tasting due to the amount of wine already imbibed. Bouchon: Now on to dinner. Bouchon was intriguing to me since it is owned by Thomas Keller and the chef was his sous chef at French Laundry. I have the F.L. cookbook and have seen several reviews on TV and in print that made my mouth water so I thought this was a fail-safe option. None of my other dining companions knew Thomas Keller from Lassie, so I trusted they would have unbiased opinions. Unfortunately, they should change the name to House of Salt, as all four of us agreed that everything was over-salted. We first stopped into the adjacent Bouchon Bakery and checked out their breads and "springtime sweets" (chocolate eggs and bunnies made from Valrhona chocolate, lemon meringue tarts, braided brioches). Walked over to Bouchon and delicately unfolded the brown tissue paper menu that was wrapped around our napkins. Basic French bistro decor with a mural along the back wall that reminded me of Magritte. Our service was passable, but not what I expected from the Foodie Center of the Universe. I started with the onion soup and my husband ordered the Salade Maraichere au Chevre Chaud et Noisettes (mixed greens with dijon mustard vinaigrette, accompanied by a crostini with warm goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts). Our friends chose to just nibble on the little toasts with olive oil/basil spread and the twisty bread with butter (all of which were decent). My soup was served nuclear hot and had a nice flavor, but it certainly wasn't the best onion soup I've ever had. The salad was not that exciting either, especially for $9.50. Still very full from all of the wine, two of us ordered the poulet roti forestiere (roasted chicken with a ragout of wild mushrooms) without the a la carte accompaniments available (french fries, french green beans, cauliflower gratin, spinach, marinated olives, or potato puree). Another friend had the saumon aux poireaux (sauteed Atlantic Salmon with stewed leeks and beurre blanc), and hubby settled for the steak frites (pan seared prime flatiorn served with maitre d'hotel butter and french fries). His portion of fries was so large that we were all able to dig in and still did not finish all of them. All dishes carried the primary flavor of salt, even the salmon sans sauce. I was disappointed that the chicken dish was served only with pan juices rather than the chefs using the pan juices and added flavor components such as wine to create a nice sauce. The best things on the table were the french fries and lemonade (which was mixed with sparkling water). I'm not sure if the kitchen staffing is different given the time of year or if it was just an "off" night for them or what. In-N-Out/Scoma's/Horizons: The next day, we decided to rent bikes in SF and bike over the Golden Gate Bridge. We stopped into In-N-Out Burger at 10:30 and split two cheeseburgers with sauteed onions for a healthy breakfast. Yum. After going over the bridge into Sausalito, we bought crab cakes to share from two restaurants next to each other by the water: Scoma's and Horizons. Horizons had smaller crab cakes served with a jicama slaw and citrus butter. Not bad, but Scoma's were larger, tastier, and served with a nice spicy remoulade (along with some mixed greens). Trish's Mini Donuts/McCormick & Kuleto's: We rode from the Embarcadero back to the Wharf and turned in the bikes, stopping to grab some hot and amazing tiny donuts from Trish's Mini Donuts, then walked over to eat some more crab cakes in the Crab Cake Lounge. We ended up getting a full meal instead at McCormick & Kuleto's. Being locals, our friends were wary of eating anywhere near Fisherman's Wharf (especially at a chain of sorts), but we ended up having a fantastic meal. Our server was far more professional than the one at Bouchon (even offering to cut up the thick chocolate bottom of the "chocolate bag" dessert for us into more manageable pieces). For starters, we split the Dungeness crabcakes with glasses of Mumm's Brut champagne. Our friends had a Hawaiian fish I'd never heard of that was tender and flaky and wonderful, served with roasted new potatoes and asparagus. We both had the salmon stuffed with crab and surrounded by pools of a creamy sauce along with mashed potatoes and a carrot/haricot verts veggie mix. We split two desserts: the divine warm apple crisp with vanilla bean ice cream and the chocolate bag (literally a bag made out of chocolate stuffed with cappuccino mousse and whipped cream, surrounded by berries and raspberry sauce). Ferry Building Market @ the Embarcadero: The next day we wandered around this nicely-renovated market, drooling at the Scharffenberger chocolate, fresh produce, and dizzying array of seafood & gourmet goodies. Ventured into the Wine Merchant's wine bar and had a glass of Billecart Salmon Rose champagne, discussing what we wanted to do since SFMOMA wasn't open when we arrived in the city from Mountain View and we didn't want to wait behind the screaming group of school children. Decided to go back to Sausalito and eat at Scoma's (not knowing it was closed on Tuesdays) since most of the places I wanted to try in SF like Gary Danko were closed for lunch. Grabbed a hunk of melt-in-your-mouth parmesan from the Cowgirl Creamery to have something in our stomachs while waiting on the ferry ride. When we returned, we popped into the Ferry Plaza Seafood counter to finish up with some crab cakes and more wine (Tramin Pinot Grigio). The crab cakes were small like the ones at Horizons and McCormick & Kuleto's, but since we probably should not have been eating again anyway we only needed a taste. Picked up some chocolate and lemon pastries as gifts for our hosts at Miette Patisserie and headed back via CalTrain. Sausalito: Backing up a bit, since Scoma's was closed, we wandered back over to Horizons and had a great view of downtown SF and the water while sipping peach bellinis and noshing on two appetizers: calamari served with 3 dipping sauces and a "colossal" prawn cocktail. We were still a little hungry and wanted to try something else, so we ended up in Poggio, a new-ish Italian place at the Casa Madrona Hotel. This place was a little stuffy and the server seemed upset that we only wanted to split a pizza. We were served three different warm rolls with butter and inquired as to who made them. Turned out to be from the Il Fornaio bakery. We have an Il Fornaio a few blocks from where we live and they usually just bring out boring, cold, white bread before the meal. We had some nicely chilled Moscato d'Asti and split a roasted red pepper and fresh mozzarella pizza with a thin crust that was perfect. Afterwards, we walked to a wine bar that we had spied on Monday, only to discover that they too were closed on Tuesdays. So we stopped in the bar at Water Street Grille for a couple of drinks. We were ignored for quite a while, ordered a Bay Slide (mudslide) and a poorly-made Skyy Cosmo, and then left. Amarin Thai Cuisine: On Tuesday night, we had a late dinner with our friends and two others in Mountain View. The place was packed (unlike their sister all-vegetarian restaurant two doors down that was populated with a lone couple). We split six dishes family-style, with the unanimous favorite being the chicken yellow curry with potatoes, onions, carrots, and coconut milk. Also really enjoyed the chicken green curry with bamboo shoots, peas, bell pepper, basil, and coconut milk. Least favorite dish was the crispy garlic pork. Other dishes were the spicy eggplant with pork, bell pepper, soybean, garlic, chili, and basil; the pad thai noodles with egg, shrimp, tofu, and bean sprouts; and the chili fish stuffed into its own skin. There were 79 regular dishes and 48 vegetarian options to choose from, so I think we did fairly well with the ones we chose. Verde Tea Cafe: Then we walked over to the hopping Verde Tea Cafe, a Taiwanese tea bar with "pearls" on the bottom of the glass (little tapioca balls). They also had frozen drinks without the tapioca surprise (mango and plum were both very good).
  3. I was begrudgingly in Indy for the Grand Prix in Y2K and found the snack food at the track to be abominable. Really enjoyed the Rathskeller though (Bavarian fare), as well as the fact that Kurt Vonnegut's grandfather had a hand in designing the building it's located in. Rathskeller
  4. Went back to Adega recently for the tasting menu experience and was informed they change the selections every two weeks. The second experience was just as sublime as the first. Our main server was the guy who dished out the bread on our last visit (and he was the best and most professional staffer we encountered, so we were happy to see him again). Bread selections were similar (kalamata, a couple of sour doughs, etc). I tried the luscious honey wheat and the sour dough with poppy seeds. Amuse bouche was a sliver of dressed-up salmon. First course: Soft boiled egg salad with a hidden brioche, "potato foam," and a bit of caviar (I could have sworn they said it was Iranian, although the menu didn't specify). They pronounced it to be a "7 minute" egg that served as the centerpiece. Served with a sparkling wine from Franciacorta, Italy (NV Bellavista Cuvee Brut). My second favorite dish of the evening that would not be out of place on a brunch menu. Second course: Pan seared arctic char with winter onion and goat cheese fondue, lemon and micro greens. Served with 2001 Josmeyer Le Dragon Riesling from Alsace, France. Third course: Bourbon cured pork belly with corn & ham salad and baked bean sauce. This was the best course (and I didn't expect it to be from reading the description, as I am not a big fan of either bourbon or beans), but maybe just because it strangely brought up memories of good Texas BBQ for me. Served with the best wine of the night, an '02 Margerum "M5" from Santa Ynez Valley, Cali (lots of luck finding this one though--it was in a numbered bottle). Fourth course: Roast red deer saddle with stewed mushrooms, squash mezzalune, and sage emulsion. We both thought the divine little "squash pockets" were the best part of this dish. Served with a '95 d'Arenberg "Twentyeight Road" Mourvedre from McLaren Vale, Australia. The least impressive wine of the evening (and a good argument for not making 100% mourvedre wines). Fifth course: Affidelice cheese course with sweet-tart apples and candied thyme leaves. There were little gelatinous cubes paired with the tiny diced apples. A little tricky to scoop up with the fork, but tasty. Paired with an '02 Savary "Selection Vieilles Vignes" Chardonnay from Chablis, France. Sixth course: Mint crepe beggar's purse with spiced tangerine mousse and sauce. Paired with an '02 Telmo Rodriguez "MR" Moscatel, Malaga, Spain. Creative dessert, but a little too intense for more than a tasting portion (which is probably the idea, right?).
  5. I hate golf, but this might actually make me buy a golfing magazine. Besides culinary advice, maybe I'll pick up enough tips to actually be able to beat a six-year-old at putt-putt.
  6. Jason Sheehan is the Westword reviewer who writes the "Bite Me" column. I think he's a creative and entertaining writer. He does tend to ramble about things other than the food, but that can make for an interesting read...I'm more likely to take Kyle Wagner's advice since she has been dead-on about many places and one of her columns introduced me to the great sandwiches at Marczyk Fine Foods...Lori Midson (formerly of 5280) also has a knack for sussing out the good places (she posts on another site and writes for some golfing magazine now). I'm also lucky enough to work with a fellow foodie that I trade recommendations and take-out menus with. Claire Walters' "Culinary Colorado" book that came out this year is great. Gabby Gourmet's annual guide is a good reference tool, as is the Dining Out magazine that comes out once or twice a year and contains sample menus for the Denver area.
  7. I'm just down the road from you... Tasting menu when we went was $69 per person plus $45 for wines matched to each course, but if you order off the menu or abstain from fun beverages it's much cheaper. It was a ton of food and wine though with new plates, silverware, and Riedel crystal for each course. Their website is www.adegadenver.com, but it doesn't seem like they update it. I read (in the Post, I think) they are going to be open for Monday dinners now too.
  8. OK, so where are the meal details, eh, Klinger75? Let's get this Adega discussion going again. Interested in hearing about recent visits.
  9. RE: So does anyone know why the Round Rock Doughnuts are orange? They always looked weird yellow-ish to me. Then again, they are usually inhaled early in the morning in a pre-caffeine haze. Their website says, "Since 1926, people from all over the country have been stopping by to give our famous yellow (or are they orange?) donuts a try." So I guess there's some actual debate about the color.
  10. As a former resident who still visits, here are some of my faves: Louie's 106. I used to work nearby and ate lunch here often. It was sad to read on this forum that it's not as consistently good as it used to be, although I ate there in March this year and had a nice lunch. Jeffrey's. I didn't actually eat here until returning as a visitor. Wow. Loved it, although the F-bomb-dropping taxi driver who drove me there felt compelled to remark, "Oh, I hate this fancy (expletive deleted) place! I dropped some (expletive deleted) prom kids off here once!" Gumbo's (the one north of Wells Branch). A restaurant group apparently bought the rights to Gumbo's and they have one in downtown Denver now. As you might imagine, it's not as good. Old Alligator Grill. I recall that they had BBQ Shrimp and Shrimp Creole dishes that were not "dumbed down" for sensitive palates. Texadelphia (Great Hills location). Mmmm. You would be surprised how many bad cheesesteaks I've had at other places (most recently at 9545 in Telluride, CO), so I usually hit this place as soon as I get into town. Dot's near Metric. This is real country cookin'. E-Z's on Lamar for chocolate shakes. Round Rock Donuts. Wackyyellowsugarrushwonderdough. Overrated: Fonda San Miguel. Admittedly haven't been here in a while, but we had it all built up for us and were disappointed. Have they changed chefs? Trudy's. I guess if you need a place to get stinking drunk... Chuy's. Ugh. Don't hate me. With so many other superior Mex/Tex-Mex places in Austin, I'm not sure why this has such a hold on people. Threadgill's. I grew up on "country cookin'" and I think they need to go take some lessons from Dot. Oasis. How can a place screw up simple appetizers? Hill Country Pasta. Is this still around? I had a pasta dish with vegetables that had no flavor whatsoever. My napkin tasted better. Miss You Dearly: Celis Raspberry (RIP) Being able to buy wine and real beer at the grocery store like you lucky Texans can Central Market (it should be federally mandated that they have one of these in every state)
  11. Worst meal: My aunt cooked up some CANNED SALMON PATTIES for me when I was a child, and she forced me to eat every last nasty bite. I was afraid to try real salmon until I was well into my 20's as a result. I don't even remember being served any side dishes--just these stringy, gray-ish/pink-ish, foul-smelling disks that gave me gastro-intestinal issues for days. Most unfortunately-named dish from my childhood: Cherry Dump. This is just cherry pie filling with dry yellow cake mix crumbled over the top and slathered with a million pats of butter.
  12. *Karen MacNeil's "Wine Bible" is amazing. *Andrea Immer's two books on tasting ("Great Wines Made Simple" and "Great Tastes Made Simple") are probably my favorites. *If you enjoy dessert wines, pick up James Peterson's "Sweet Wines." *Fun reads: "Love By the Glass" by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher and "Bacchus and Me" by Jay McInerney. *Jancis Robinson rules.
  13. Below is the chef's tasting menu from our visit: Course One - Wedge of butter lettuce with buttered pecans, grilled peaches, buttermilk dressing, and blueberries (the last item was not included in the menu description, so I'm wondering if they ended up on the plate by mistake) Wine - 1999 Marc Tempe "Zellenberg" Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France Course Two - Crisp lobster and cherries with diver scallops and fennel relish. Wine - 1997 Chateau Soucherie "Clos des Perrieres" Sauvennieres, Loire Valley, France Course Three - Truffle stuffed arctic char with purple potato steak fries and cauliflower sauce Wine for Course Three - 2001 Francesco Boschis "Vigna dei Prey" Dolcetto di Dogliani, Piedmont, Italy Course Four - Rack of Colorado lamb with potato wrapped summer onion, braised ribs, zucchini & pastina risotto Wine - 1996 Massolino, Barolo, Piedmont, Italy Course Five - Affidelice cheese course with biscotti and black mission figs Wine - 2001 Les Clos de Paulilles, Banyuls, France Course Six - Pear brioche tart with calvados anglaise Wine - 2000 Lawson's Dry Hills, Late Harvest Semillon, Marlborough, New Zealand
  14. Hi - I lived in Austin for a few years (how I miss thee) and loved Marye's Gourmet Pizza on Bee Caves. You can eat there or get a take-and-bake to go. Also enjoyed the Cook's Spicy Special at Brick Oven (with spicy beef). And Reale's pizza! How could I forget about that? Double Dave's has good pizza rolls and stromboli, but I was never that crazy about their pizza. Never heard of Rounders but will have to check that out the next time I'm in town (if I'm not already full from all the other great stuff like Texadelphia and Louie's 106).
  15. Tried Adega for the first time and had the amazing 6-course chef's tasting menu paired with wines served in Riedel stemware (2 French whites, 2 Italian reds, 1 French dessert wine, and 1 semillon dessert wine from New Zealand). The sommelier explained each of the selections as he poured them (without attitude) and how they paired with the food. They also brought by an amuse bouche (a microscopic piece of art that was announced as a spring roll of some sort), and one server brought by a bread tray multiple times filled with 5 or 6 different selections such as sourdough and kalamata olive. Professional service and a unique, stellar combination of ingredients in the dishes on a par with what you would find in "foodie dream cities" like San Francisco. I don't normally eat figs or combine lobster with cherries and fennel relish, but everything in this menu worked together and provided so many different taste sensations. Does anyone know how frequently the tasting menu changes? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Ours was completely different from the one listed on their website.
  • Create New...