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James Colabelli

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  1. The French bistro or whatever as a place for all people to go is a thing of the past... The real American equivalent is indeed the diner, like Pete's on 17th, where you actually will see truck driver guys in booths next to dudes in suits using laptops. It's the only truly democratic dining in Philly.
  2. Well, I know they're not exotic (soft shells), but they are highly perishable and only best when they're tip-top in condition and prepared by someone who really knows what they're doing, which is the main point of my post. But, I'm sorry you had a bad meal there! Really, for dependable versions of all the tried and true Chinese-American dishes, I have always found them to be very dependable. I'd give them another go. The General Tso's there is perfectly fine, at least in my opinion, in the many times I have had it.
  3. Hmm... I don't really write alot on this here board, but I must really disagree with what I've read in this discussion. S/H is a really great thing to have in the neighborhood (for me it's ony 2 blocks away). I'm there at least once a week, on Sunday afternoons with some wine. It's not "great" Chinese by any stretch of the imagination. But is is very very good. But, you need to use some intelligence or at least common sense. Let's draw an analogy: If you're at a diner, is it smarter to orer a burger or the strip steak? Most diners produce a decent burger, but would you ever expect a decent steak at a diner for 14.95 or whatever it is? Of course not. Same at a place like S/H. Use common sense. Dishes based on lamb, chicken, beef, are safe bets. Soft Shelled crabs? Are you kidding? An extremely perishable, seasonal delicacy? Dangerous order at best, in terms of quality. Order shrimp instead. Shrimp freeze well (99% of all "fresh shrimp" were frozen at some point) and survive over/under cooking decently. Hard to mess up. Lobster? Unless the place has a tank, it's probably gonna be frozen, and frozen lobster is terrible, as we all know. Don't risk it. Granted, if a restaurant can't do a dish well, they shouldn't offer it, but c'mon, this is a neighborhood Chinese place where 2 people get a big dinner for under 30 bucks. By the by - the scallion pancake there is always killer, and the owner, Mr.Tang, is a really nice guy, and you always get extremely polite service.
  4. Katie, Thanks for your well thought out response. First of all, I meant no disrespect to battered women. I was just drawing an analogy. I must disagaree with 2 of your statements: "The purchasing power of the PLCB is being harnessed for good not evil"... wrong. It is being "harnessed" to placate the people who would be the most passionate opponents of the whole government run liquor stores - the wine enthusiasts. By getting a "bargain" now and then... and one not that more than one might get in a "free"state like NY or NJ, they tolerate the whole effed up system. Are most aware that if they were buying the same wine in NJ at the same price, they would get a 10% - 20% discount for buying a case, or that even hole in the wall stores in these places offer free delivery? That in even small stores like Shope Rite in Trenton, they have a WSET Diploma student on the sales force, or that at a Canal's in Marlton, the buyer attends the Napa wine auction every year so he can get Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estates for his customers? That's some serious customer service, as opposed to the state employee who just says "we don't have that" (one exception is the dude at the state store in Ardmore... I forget his name...oh yeah, it's Tom Peters) "the state store system is a fact of life" (or something like that) wrong. Last time I checked, I was a registered voter and a taxpayer. So it's up to me, and people like me, to get rid of the silly system that puts booze in the hands of a state run monopoly. Is this Russia or something like that? The BS Chairman's Selections are an "escape valve" for a portion of the frustration of the fine wine consumer in PA. Look at out best restaurants.. Hotel Dupont, Four Seasons Fountain, Le Bec Fin... NONE are Wine Spectator Grand Award winners. Not that that is a litmus test to a great wine program, but the reason there are NO Grand Award winners is because: 1. you can't get great selection or older vintages in PA, and, B. Restaurants pay retail as opposed to wholesale prices for all their booze. As a former restaurant owner and restaurant beverage manager in PA, I felt a certain frustration at buying over 3 MILLION dollars of booze annually from the PLCB, and when I went in to the state store to pay for it (!) having to stand in line BEHIND some toothless homeless dude at a cash register while he purchased his pint of Vladimir vodka so I could pay for my 18,000 worth of booze a week, only then to have to PAY for some dude to pick it up and deliver it to my restaurant! In NYC you can get FREE delivery for a bottle of Scotch from a deli for Pete's sake. I have been to many stores in NJ where you can get older vintages of collector wine like Verite, Lafite, etc. at below the cost of current releases. But as the rest of this message states, that's just a tip of the iceberg of the PLCB's total bullshit. And, I have no vested interest in any of this. Most of the wine I enjoy is either sent to me at no charge from wineries I have relationships with, and the remainder I buy via auction either from Acker, Winebid.com, or Sotheby's in NYC.
  5. Okay.. The "La Forra" bottling is a slightly more New World version of Nozzole's Riserva Chianti... the main difference is the aging in 2 and 3 year old barriques for something like 6 months before putting the wine in the larger Slavonionia nuetral-oak casks. They are also one of the few houses that still uses Trebbiano and, I think, Malvasia grapes (just 2 -3%) in their blends. I have had the 2001, and it reflects the overall ripeness of the vintage, with a tad more tannic force than one would expect from the vintage and the house style. (I tasted it in 2005). It's okay wine. At $40 or whatever the standard retail is, it's overpriced... at 15-20 bucks it would be a decent value for a good Chianti. Bear in mind this wine was released in 2004... 3 years ago. The PLCB discounting it is just another instance of picking up some wine that the distributer couldn't sell out at the normal wholesale price. In an "open market"state like NJ, this happens all the time, and bargains like this one are not at all uncommon. My point isn't the wine itself... you like it, she doesn't, he does, I don't... who cares? The point is that these silly "bargains" called "Chairman's Selections" are taking the heat off of the PLCB by dumbasses who think they are getting deals of the century or something. The PLCB needs the heat turned up, until we have a free market in PA and the damn government isn't the only retailer of alcoholic beverages. (besides beer) I mean, even small-time stores in Trenton and suchlike blow away the selection, customer service, and prices of the best "Wine and Spirits Shoppe" in PA. (I love the "Shoppe" spelling on a crappy store in West Philly that sells more Vladimir Vodka to homeless guys than any other SKU in the store) Getting excited about a bunch of ordinary, and sometimes crappy, "Chairman's Selections" and feeling good about the PLCB as a result is something like a battered housewife feeling better about her marriage because "Now Bobby only hits me when I do something wrong"
  6. Well, the point I find interesting is that on this and other food and wine boards/discussion groups, people always claim to be "above" the word of critics, etc., but, in the end, will use a critic's score or rating of a wine/restaurant to bolster their opinion or justify their liking/disliking of something. Likewise, most people think "Chairman's Selection" wines are "great" or "awesome deals" just because they feel clever or lucky to be drinking a "$55. dollar bottle" or whatever that they only paid $14.99 for. The great bulk of the Chairman Selections are wines from off vintages or bottlings that the winery had broblems with like TCA or whatever. It's kind of like feeling cool about driving a Mercedes, but it's 12 years old and breaks down all the time... But it has that little hood ornament! The last time I actually tasted a Chairman's Selection wine it was the 1999 Chapoutier "Le Sizeranne". The wine tasted like ass. I mean, some really bad reductive aromas and the thin body/lack of taste associated with this sort of extreme wine fault. (Not a bottle variation flaw like TCA... and even then, usually entire bottling runs tend to have this in common, since the corks come from the same batch). But I'm sure alot of dumbasses thought it was "great" just because they got such an "expensive bottle" so cheap. In wine, as in all else in life, you usually get what you pay for. In the case of Nozzole, I mean, yes the wines are ok usually. But to compare or think of their wines as "great Chianti" is just plain silly. Castello di Ama makes "great" Chianti... In the world of Chianti, a little house like Monterinaldi makes a $14. retail bottle that I would MUCH rather drink than a $34. bottle of Ruffino or the like. And the world of tasting wine is NOT subjective. It is objective in an academic sense. It has to do with one's experience and the learned ability to make a structured tasting note or notes on a wine or a group of wines. Simply put, "I loved it" is a subjective and totally acceptable review of a wine one has enjoyed. "It's great" is an objective comment based upon the ability, experience, and knowledge of the taster/tasters. All that being said, it is great that people are so passionate and interested in wine that they share their opinions on boards like this one.
  7. Nozzole Chianti? Please... Nozzole is the Gallo of Italy. Please be serious James
  8. I don't post alot to this board, but I read it from time to time. I do have to comment on the idea that a restaurant can be forgiven for a bad experience because it "just opened". That's a pile of bull in my opinion. After all, the diners on the first night of service are paying just as much as people who go 4 months later. If a restaurant isn't ready to do a very good job at its price point and level of ambition, then have friends come in for free until it is, or limit the number of patrons a night to what it can successfully give a good experience to. End of debate.
  9. Bruce Lim left Max's a long time ago.
  10. Hi James: Will this be going on indefinitely? It's hard for me to get down to the city for dinner during the week as I live in the 'burbs, but I will be moving to the city in July and am looking forward to drinking you out of house and home.. er, I mean sampling some new wines! Yeah, that's the ticket... ← We will be offering the "Weeday Wine Pass" for at least the next few months. See you soon! -James Colabelli
  11. Jelly, Thanks for your kind words. It is great to eat an Argentine steak and wash it down with an Argentine Malbec, I agree. That's the kind of experience that Meritage Philadelphia is all about. I'm glad you enjoyed the wine (and the food!). The wine is a great Malbec - full and rich, but not overpowering and too heavy. It was Bodega Catena Zapata 2002. (The "C" on the label might be what you mistook for a "G"). It's available by special order from the PLCB for 18 bucks, and it's worth every penny. Hope you make it in again to enjoy another dinner and a "Weekday Wine Pass". Please let me know who you are next time you stop in! -James Colabelli
  12. To all food and wine lovers: Do you ever have difficulty deciding on what glass of wine you want with dinner? Do you enjoy trying several wines so you can compare and contrast them? Now you can try as many (and as much!) of the 16 or more wines we serve by the glass at Meritage Philadelphia for the single fee of 20. We call it the Weekday Wine Pass - it's available Monday-Friday with dinner. Hope to pour some wines for you soon!!! -James Colabelli Sommelier-Proprietor, Meritage Philadelphia
  13. If you are looking for them at a restaurant, we are now serving them at Meritage Philadelphia (20th and Lombard): Zucchini blossoms Provençal Sautéed zucchini blossoms stuffed with rabbit, bacon, and potato, served with Cheron sauce 12. -James Colabelli, DWS
  14. Sorry, Vineyards are farms. They grow grapes in dirt. The way they are grown can be amazingly complex (trellising systems, leaf thinning, canopy management, greet harvest etc. etc. etc. ) but they are farms. they grow things in dirt. Wine is a food. You drink it, but it contains vitamins, minerals, calories. The end.
  15. actually, most experts agree that tomatoes are bad with wine in general, and certainly bad with older wine (red and white). Just open the bottles and see.
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