Valentine's Day 2017

Evelyn and I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day at the Wildfire Restaurant in Georgetown this year.  It was also our 24th Wedding Anniversary.  Our reservation was for 6:00.

We started off with some Champagne (of course) - Domain Chandon, CA, Blanc de Noir.  The wine list was ok I guess.  They featured Texas wines.  I guess it is nice to support local winerys but I much prefer California wines.  Call me a wine snob if you will, but if you don't believe that CA wines are the best in the USA and some of the finest in the world, then you truly have my sympathy.  I don't have a problem with a restaurant faeturing local wines, but they can at least offer a nice CA wine list.  Wildfire does not.  But we liked the Champagne well enough to stick with it throughout dinner.

We both started out with salads.  Evelyn chose the Bacon, Spinach salad and I chose the Brussel Sprouts and Beet salad.  Both salads came in bowls filled with chopped up vegetables.  A pathetic presentation.  It would have been much better to present the salads on plates.  But at least the salads tasted good.

We then jumped into some appetizers - Calimari and Pork Belly.  Both of these dishes were nice.

One problem though.  I also order a bowl of Gumbo - it was a special for Valentine's Day.  And I do love a good bowl of Gumbo.  But sadly, they ran out.  You have got to be kidding me.  Dinner service started at 5:00 and they had already run out of a special?  Real good planning there.

For entries, we chose a Salmon dish and a Seafood Feticini dish.  The Salmon was descent but the Feticini was somewhat bland.  The menu favored beef, but we were not in the mood.

The Service was ok, but the staff is highly automated - very little flexibility.  I was checking out some of the other tables and noticed that when someone ordered a glass of wine, the wine was delivered in a little pitcher.  So apparently, the Management does not trust the Staff to properly pour a glass of wine?  How about some wine training for the Staff?  When I order a glass of wine, I want to see the bottle itself.  Give me a break.

We decided to pass on dessert - we had enough.

So all in all, it was not a bad meal.  But the staff needs training.  The chief needs to get his stuff together.  And the wine list needs work.  This place will have to greatly improve before the get any more of my business.

 

The Salt Lick BBQ

The Salt Lick BBQ

My brother in law (Hector Esparza) lives in Temecula, CA.   He is an expert in BBQ and beer, which makes him a quality human being.  Apparently, the Texas Hill Country is famous for BBQ.  And Austin is right in the middle of the Texas Hill Country.  So Hector has charged me with the task of investigating the BBQ establishments around here.  He will visit some time in the future and I best have done my BQQ prep work.  So I have accepted this challenge.  I will thus make sure and post the notable BBQ that I discover.

Gumbo’s Wine Dinner – August 2013

Gumbo’s Wine Dinner – August 2013

My wife and I have had dinner ( a couple of times) at a Louisiana style restaurant in Georgetown called Gumbo’s.  We have been quite impressed.  So when we heard that they have monthly wine dinners, we decided to check it out.  Gumbo’s is owned by Shuler and Denise Page.  They are great owners.  Very personable and committed to quality.  The August Dinner was hosted by Keith Sennikoff of Global Wines.  This guy knows his stuff.  I learned a lot from him this evening.  And I will keep in touch and probably bug him a lot about my wine needs.  Keith decided to present French wines for this dinner.

The Easter Feast

The Easter Feast

This Sunday was Easter, the day that we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior – Jesus the Christ. What better way to celebrate Easter than to have a proper feast. The focus of the menu was crepes – both savory and dessert. I designed the meal such that each crepe was a mini meal. No side dishes needed.

SAVORY CREPES
1) Avocado, prawns, crab, cilantro, yellow onion, lemon juice.

River’s End

River’s End

In my opinion (and I am correct), the finest restaurant on the Sonoma Coast is River’s Endin Jenner. River’s End is literally at the end of the Russian River were it runs into the Pacific Ocean. So they have great views of the Russian River and the Ocean. There is even a little Harbor Seal colony at the mouth of the river. The sunsets here are spectacular.  River’s End has great wine pairings. The Wine Spectator has awarded River’s End an Award of Excellence, which is quite the achievement. Check out the Wine Spectator ratings:

Alexander’s at Timber Cove Inn

Alexander’s at Timber Cove Inn

Timber Cove Inn has a restaurant called Alexander’s. We spent a weekend at Timber Cove for our 19th Wedding Anniversary. So we decided to check out the restaurant for dinner. I am glad that we did. We both chose the 5 course chef paring with wine. The entire table did not have to do the pairing, which is nice. And you could make substitutions in the menu, which I did.

Here was the meal:

Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Vineyards

Evelyn and I have taken a number of trips to the Sonoma Coast. It is about a 2 hour drive from our house. So often times we stop for a little refreshment along the way. Enter Iron Horse Vineyards outside of Sebastopol.  Iron Horse specializes in Champagne. They are served at the White House in Washington DC. Fine Champagne Houses make Non Vintage wines and Declared wines. Non Vintage wines are blends and are thus produced every year. Declared wines are select and are thus produced only during the best vintages. Iron Horse releases its Declared wine as an “LD”, which stands for “late disgorged”.

Evelyn and Steve’s 19th Wedding Anniversary

Evelyn and Steve’s 19th Wedding Anniversary

Evelyn and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary this year by spending a weekend at Timber Cove Inn in Sonoma County. Timber Cove is located by Fort Ross, which is about a 30 minute drive North of the town of Jenner on Highway 1.  Jenner is were the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean. We drove up on Friday (2/7) and drove home on Monday (2/11).  It takes about 2. 5 hours to get to Timber Cove from our house. After driving for 1. 5 hours, I was feeling a little peaked, so we decided to stop at Iron Horse Vineyards outside of Sebastopol. My next blog post will present the details of this vineyard. But suffice it to say that it was a great way to start our anniversary celebration.

New Years Day Feast

New Years Day Feast

We like to start out the New Year with a proper feast.

1) Honey Baked Ham
I love a properly cured ham. This Michigan based product is cured with honey.

2) Dungenes Crab
Great with the ham and cheeses.

3) Scalloped Potatoes
This dish is essentially multiple layers of sliced potatoes. I like to add other wonderful things to the layers. Like sautéed onions and garlic, Herbs de Provenance, sautéed mushrooms, and Cheddar and Parmesan cheese. And to kick it up a notch – fennel.  I top the whole thing off with a mixture of: {cream of mushroom soup, Italian red vermouth, heavy cream}. It is important to caramelize everything. The result is a wonderful complexity of flavours. So the yellow onions and garlic are caramelized.