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Everything posted by estufarian

  1. This is definitely not the situation with these wines. In the instance you mention, they use a "fake" product code (always the same code - actually I've seen two codes). All of these new ones have legitimate codes on the shelf (even if some descriptions are wrong!) and are 'nominally' searchable on the LCBO database. However the results are not reliable (the searches on the Struie and Chambolle Musigny mentioned above give the correct price but wrong vintage, tasting notes and release dates). And I can't see a limited stock of a 96 Point parker rating, which was also in the latest Wine Spectator top 100, not being able to sell out at around $50. Neither are they listed in the 'In-Store Discoveries' - which does include the Mount Eden wines (regardless of whether they are available for a press tasting). Incidentally the 91 and 96 Chardonnays from Mount Eden that I had last night were both in great shape - the 96 is still tight and has years ahead of it, so lay down the 2001 if you buy it. I tried asking a consultant at a different store about the source. I was told two stories. One was that, in eliminating the Classics catalogue and switching to the promised 'better service' through more frequent smaller on-line releases, there was too much for the recent on-line catalogue - they didn't want to raise expectations. The second was that (theoretically) catalogue wines (on-line or not) were not available to the stores, which were running out of high-end product, so they took "half" of the wine 'intended' for the on-line catalogue and did a 'soft-release' - no emails or paper list. In particular, the Chambolle Musigny from de Vogue was only spotted by the store in a list of 'available' wines that could be shipped to the store (which included leftovers from various on-line offerings that didn't sell out) so they grabbed it. Indeed it only appeared in the 'complete' ordering list - never highlighted (my concern here is that I'm building a vertical so buy EVERY release of this specific wine).
  2. Yes! There are literally dozens of 'soft releases' in the Vintages stores. And they're NOT leftovers (although they are 'Classics like'). For example: The de Vogue Chambolle Musigny 2004 (although a query on the LCBO website says it's the 2002 and was released a couple of years back!!!!!!). Many of the Italians can easily be found by doing a search on 'Marc De Grazia', then sorting the list by LCBO item # (just click on the heading). If you ignore the last digit of the item # (which is a check digit), you'll see that many on this list have consecutive item #'s - and they all have "n/a" as their release date. Not surprising as they were NEVER formally released. Not sure if I should be pleased that the LCBO has genuine 'in-store discoveries' or disgusted that this is potentially a method of putting wines on the shelves that will only be known to a 'select few'. Of course these 'select few' wouldn't be friends of officials at the LCBO would they!!!!!!! So far I can't find anything on their website that explains these unofficial releases. And I asked a product consultant for a list - he/she (protecting identity) said there wasn't one (!) - if so, how do these get into the stores??????
  3. For my reservation (made in March) they took a week to respond to the electronic request. I followed up with a FAX (also a good option if your French is not that good) and received the email response a few hours after the Fax. But all responses were in French!
  4. Recently gave Perigee a third try after two previous disappointing visits. The good news - it was easily the best of the three. The bad news - even after determining any allergies, they AGAIN served one of the forbidden foods (it was in a pre-dessert presented as a bonus dish). This has now happened on all 3 visits! And although the food was much better, I still think that the 'surprise' nature of the menu prevents any reasonable wine selections being made. And in the interests of fairness, the wine selections this time were certainly an improvement on the disastrous choices on previous visits. But still relatively uninspired (compared to e.g. Splendido, which is in a comparable price bracket).
  5. Thanks all. We're hoping the Toronto airport is clear on Sunday - closed last night (snow & ice). But, after all, that 24 hr between flights is what is enabling the trip to Brighton anyway.
  6. Just a little too far - not sure my aunt will stay awake until we make it back! Thanks though.
  7. Just checked - they close Sunday, open Monday - so that's a great suggestion. Anybody else?
  8. Can anyone add anything that's open (and good) on a Monday evening? Both Michelin Bibs are closed, and our arrival time is "depending on airline schedule" - we arrive in London Mon morning (supposedly) and fly out again (to India) on Tues evening - allowing a full day to avoid potential delays. We'll be in Brighton because a great-aunt (aged 92, but young-at-heart) lives there and we hope to find something relatively exciting for us and acceptable to her. A quick run through of possible places has already thrown up "Due South" - anybody been there (or can suggest alternatives open on Monday)? PS We'll be cabbing it.
  9. We had no difficulty finding Rafa's - it was even open. BUT we hadn't made a reservation and there was nobody else there, so no Rafa himself - only the (presumably) same lady sweeping and cleaning. She told us to go away and call to make a reservation first - except it was already lunchtime and no indication of whether the reservation would be accommodated that day (or any other day) - and we were departing Roses anyway the following morning. Apparently if ANYBODY has made a reservation, Rafa will be there and you MAY be allowed to walk in. But if no reservations - then no Rafa!
  10. This is Con Fabes. Yes??? Sorry it does not belong to this thread. I suppose "French" is used here in a derogatory sense. Boring? Classical? Old style? Trained in France? Holds some French chef at high regard? Please explain. ← Indeed, it was intended for the Can Fabes thread. No, it's not boring (per se). Yes, it's classical. Old-style isn't the best description - everything is up-to-date (but not experimental) - techniques are classic and combinations are well-balanced. My intent (albeit in the wrong thread) was to emphasize that Can Fabes is stylistically different from most of the other starred restaurants in Spain and more akin to what would find in starred restaurants in France. My travels recently haven't taken me to France but the Can Fabes experience recalled food memories of several trips in the mid-late 80's and early 90's. That didn't happen at any of the other starred places in Spain, where the experiences do have more in common stylistically - with Can Fabes being in a different category. Not better, or worse - just different. And, to me, 'French'.
  11. Yes, they did have the correct one. Just brought the wrong one.
  12. I actually thought that it might be because they have a limited number of servers who know enough English so it made sense to put them in a 'non-Spanish' section. Presumably Spanish speakers could be adequately served anywhere in the restaurant. I retract the use of the word 'banish'. I do not retract any comments about being served an inferior vintage - a far more significant issue!
  13. I don't think so either. Because I post on all food related boards under a pseudonym and my reservations were in my real name, I was classified as a 'typical American' at both Akelare and Arzak. At Akelare I recived gracious treatment, utmost respect and enjoyed the best meal of my life. At Arzak I was 'banished' to the non-Spanish section upstairs, and received very good food and below-par service. I still believe that the substitution of a 'poor' vintage wine for a 'great' vintage as ordered was deliberate (I hesitate to go as far as suggesting we were regarded as "ignorant Americans") and any 3* should have got that IMPORTANT detail right. Of course, I noticed and sent the wine back - Apologies seemed insincere!
  14. Me too! I describe it as the best French restaurant in Spain. But if you want French........ EDIT: Sorry, wrong thread!
  15. If you're doing the route as conceived, then Eigensinn is indeed the only place worth a special trip (as Michelin would say). However, reservations are EXTREMELY difficult - you have to call (no email, website) and typically they don't return calls (because it's just the two of them and it would take too long). HINT: As they have a school-age child, calling around 5-6pm local time is best as they will likely be feeding him prior to preparing for guests and be around to answer the phone. I suggest you try now, be very polite and tell them that you're coming from Scotland and friends have told you to come there. And you'd like a reservation (on whatever date or near that) so that you can plan your visit around whatever date they can accommodate you. A loop through Niagara/Wine Country would also be fun - but I'm not sure that Prince Edward County is as desirable (some decent restaurants and disastrous wine). But there's more there than there is in Algonquin! It used to be great but, nowadays, increased tourism means you're restricted to much improved roads - unless you have time to get out camping (which you don't on a short visit). But you could reach Ottawa via Kingston (including Prince Edward County and 1000 Islands). But, despite my love for Toronto, if the price is right, I'd suggest Vancouver (now ducking to avoid missiles).
  16. I don't go any more. It doesn't show places at anywhere their real style and I have been disappointed at over half a dozen places. A couple (e.g. Lai wah heen) which I usually like were disastrous. I've also given up going, during Winterlicious and Summerlicious, to places I normally frequent, as their service plummets and so does the food. Even ordering off-licious menu doesn't help.
  17. Just got back from Miami. My research showed that Michy's was tentatively the best and indeed it topped our experiences. Definitely worth it-we would return, but probably not on a Saturday, which was hectic and noisy. Stretch limos, loud neighbors and tables too close together were the problem (stretch limos as the road is down to 2 lanes for roadworks). We "passed by" Little Havana - planned on lunch there but ran out of time. It looked good and would definitely try on next visit. As a comparison (they're not on your list, or necessarily in North Miami), but I compiled my list from reccos here and elsewhere, best to avoid Barton G (all show) and Latin American cafeteria - WAY overrated Cuban Sandwich and food tepid (at best).
  18. In October I ate at Caballo Roja (in most tourist books) and was both surprised and elated. I'd expected 'tourist food' and found a creative menu, and good service. The chef seemed to actually be trying. Trying to find my notes. If I can I'll post later, but it's right in the heart and well-signed (and the menu is posted outside).
  19. Visited Coca last night. It's actually two separate restaurants - a tapas bar at street level and a dining room upstairs. The tapas place (both bar and booths) is open every day and the restaurant only Thur/Fri/Sat. Different menus too. Obviously (as it was a Monday) we were in the tapas bar (more correctly in a booth - the bar stools are pretty high and we were more interested in the food anyway). The menu has two halves - cold and hot tapas. There's an olive bar - about 8 different types. We tried the licorice which were pretty good. Of the cold tapas, the standout was the quail eggs stuffed with truffled aioli and smoked pork belly. The flavours were tremendous, but the dish was a little too cold for my liking - I would have preferred it at room temperature. And it matched perfectly with a 60 ml (2 oz) serving of a fino sherry. Incidentally, they have about a dozen selections each of red and white wines available by the 2 or 4 or 6 oz serving with other wines by the bottle. For me the best trawling area was the Cocas section, after which the menu is named. Think of a very thin crust pizza with creative toppings. Crispy,crunchy, chewy, savoury - and a big advantage over pizza in that they aren't smothered in tomatoes which, for me, nearly always dominate the flavour of 'real' pizza. There are a few larger dishes (more like large appetizers than mains). The best here was a large quail stuffed with smoked pork belly and figs. But close behind was a mushroom paella served with a goat cheese (?milk) foam. I loved the textures and flavours of the mushrooms - which are of course in season. A wild white prawn dish was lifted by vanilla olive oil and included great bread to sop up the sauce. On the menu were a couple of horsemeat dishes - but this visit I stuck to the more conventional. Total bill for 2 was around $100 before tax and tip, but including 3 wines each (8oz per person). Pretty fair for what we had. Service was friendly and accommodating with good knowledge of the dishes but a lesser knowledge of the wines. And the wines by the glass were pretty safe. The sherries seem to be the best buy. As with all of the 'tapas' places in Toronto (including the small plate dishes erroneously called tapas), such as Lee, JKWB, Cava, Kultura the dishes come out 'at the chef's pleasure' rather than in a designed sequence. Coca is a bit cheaper than all the others. I certainly prefer it to Cava. It doesn't have the buzz/beautiful people of Kultura (probably my favourite of the group) but is much cheaper. Lee is noisier with worse service but better food, but so-so wine selection - and again much more expensive. And I'm not a JKWB fan anyway (although I do think they have a great winelist) - the food at JKWB has not been good on recent visits - which, come to think of it, are no longer that recent for exactly that reason. Absolutely I'll return - and probably try the upstairs resto next, but on a Monday certainly, Coca is a welcome addition. The main issue in that area is parking.
  20. estufarian


    I haven't been for lunch, but a couple of dinners there were just boring with disappointing service - basically we were ignored in an almost empty restaurant. We did go for one of the LCBO 'special' wine & food dinners (last year IIRC). The food was not bad, but the matches with the wines were disastrous - it was a joke. Both the wines and the food suffered. Not sure who made the matches but it certainly didn't restore confidence. But I did like the dessert.
  21. Coca had a booth at the recent Food and Wine show. Picked up a copy of their menu which seems to be mainly tapas (more in the real meaning i.e. spanish style rather than the appetizers that are routinely offered in Toronto). They also serve some 'non-traditional' tapas (i.e. small plates) and a handful of mains. Just about everything under $20 except for a T-bone. Same ownership as Czehoski (which I rate higher than most people - still think it one of the most exciting places in Toronto, although sometimes they fall off the high-wire) and some interesting items (several of which I've had at Czehoski). Examples: Quail stuffed with pork belly and figs Wild white prawns in garlic Horse tenderloin The tapas side features 8 different olives, stuffed peppers, roasted beets, 8 different sliced meats/sausages (with assorted mustards) and various desserts - mostly variants on flans/custards.
  22. I heard a rumour that Coppi's truffles were 'confiscated' this year. Apparently too much earth on the truffles.
  23. Meal at Metropolitan: Amuse – tomatillo/avocado/orange with Microbasil The orange swamped other components – acid even wiped out texture of avocado. Roasted Pistachio Soup (Charles de Fere Blanc de Blanc) Roasted Red Pepper Bisque (Conundrum, Caymus) I preferred the Bisque. The aromatics on the pistachio soup (? From a pistachio oil swirled on top) were excellent, but the flavour was muted in the soup. The Charles de Fere went well with both soups. Crab cake with aioli and mixed greens (Soave-Anselmi) Shaved Asparagus on squash, with White asparagus, cress and roasted garlic (Sauvignon Blanc – Matua Valley). This was least successful course. Fierce vinaigrette on the mixed greens and asparagus dish was very salty. Despite the perfect ‘theoretical’ match of the N Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with the asparagus, it was actually too fruity. Foie Gras with Pumpkin/mint Foie Gras with Apple, Maple Syrup and Cream No notes on the pumpkin/mint. The maple syrup was just detectable on the aromatics. The apple was probably two different types as one was crisp slices (excellent textural contrast) but the foie gras was on a bed of ‘mushy apple’ – reminded me of a Golden Delicious texture, but not taste. Seared scallop (two presentations) One with roasted chard and ? (Elderton Semillon) Second with corn succotash (Calera Chardonnay) As I mentioned above succotash was superb. The ? above, was because we were told it was potato, but it tasted sweeter (? Sweet potato). We were told later it was squash (didn’t record what type). Palate Cleanser of Lichee Sorbet and kiwi soup Didn’t work at all – much too sweet – almost like a dessert. Sweet rather than acidic/bitter. Oxtail with parsnip (Cabernet Sauvignon – Hess Select). A great ‘comfort’ dish. Well cooked and presented. I love parsnips anyway, and these were good – for my taste they could have been crisper, but that’s my preference, not a criticism of the presentation. Dessert was a lime tart (Moscato d’Asti/ Taylor LBV). Fine – nothing outstanding – but I finished it, so must have been OK. And, of course, no coffee offered – but that’s a Mormon thing (I presume). What surprised me most was no mushrooms anywhere (aren’t they in season?). I thought the use of squash appropriate (although textures were similar). The pistachio soup looked great on paper, but didn’t quite work for me – perhaps throw in some pistachio crumbs to add texture. All-in-all I enjoyed the meal – especially that they provided separate choices for each of us for many of the courses. And service was excellent all through. But when I wrote the first review I didn’t refer to my notes so you can see what the lingering recollections were – service, salt, succotash, and vinaigrette.
  24. Quick report. Thanks to bad weather in Chicago we had an abbreviated trip,and only got to Metropolitan and Red Iguana. Red Iguana was superb - great Mexican. The mole poblano was the highlight although I'm still not sure that turkey was my favourite ingredient. By comparison the cochinita pibil was bland (but tasty). Eventually tried dipping the pork from that into the mole sauce and that was my favourite combination. Our appetiser was the Rajas de Chile Poblano con Queso y Chorizo - also great. And can't beat the wine prices either - a Chilean Carmenere was $16 (not the one on the menu, but nobody seemed to mind). Great food and value. Metropolitan was OK but may be a disappointment for 'Big City' visitors. The food is 'correct' but uninspired - didn't seem to take full advantage of local ingredients. And seasoning was erratic - liberal salting and aggressive vinaigrette were the lingering memory. However, the service was exceptional (by Toronto standards) - very friendly and helpful - always eager to please. I almost feel like a grinch but the food was unmemorable (actually an excellent succotash - the only thing that I recall). I'm obviously aware of the reputation for relatively bland food in SLC and Metropolitan seems to play it safe. Having said that, mostly competent, no disasters (OK maybe the vinaigrette) and huge portions. The wine list was also 'safe' (national distribution brands) - a pleasant meal without any peaks or valleys.
  25. Ok for occasional use but their stuff is pretty cheap and not particularly well made. I shop there from time-to-time - wide selection - , but wouldn't recommend them for anything other than 'occasional home use'.
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