Thursday, December 31, 2009

2006 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

Also had this on New Year’s Eve after having an ’06 Siduri from Clos Pepe as well. This seemed to drink in a similar style to the Siduri, and I actually ended up rating them both exactly the same. This was my first ’06 Clos Pepe from Loring, so I didn’t have a previous bottle to compare it to. This bottle was unscrewed and left open over the course of 2 hours at cellar temperature. Very similar ruby/garnet color as the Siduri, with a nose black cherry and tons of spice. You could also smell the alcohol on the nose, and it was definitely more prevalent than the Siduri. Once this wine came up to room temperature, there were more strawberry and earth tones to it, as well as some red fruits, but again, nothing stood out. On the palate, there was again some tart black fruit, with subtle hints of raspberry, strawberry and cherry. No hints of cola whatsoever in this bottle, but again some nice acidity and a bit of tannin. The alcohol came through a bit on the finish, and just proves that this could really use a good 3-4 hour splash decant, or an aggressive decant. Good pinot, but I don’t know if it is worth the price tag at this point. This seems to be more and more of a reality for me with ’06 pinot, but who knows. Regardless, still nice to drink, but not the Loring that I have grown to love. 89 points.

2006 Siduri Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

This was wine number one on New Year’s Eve, and unfortunately it was popped and poured as there was no time to decant. From previous bottles, I think that this wine definitely benefits from a few hours in the decanter before serving. Regardless, it was still drinking well, but not the Siduri that I have grown to love. Typical ruby pinot color in the glass, with a nose of cherry, and spice. Definitely some other black fruits on the nose, but nothing really stood out. There were also some hints of spice, and a bit of earthiness to it, but it didn’t have that typical Wes Hagen Clos Pepe nose for whatever reason. On the palate, the fruit almost seemed over ripe, but again, this bottle was a bit different than other bottles we have consumed. It was definitely lacking that “Siduri shine” that I have grown to love, with some plum and sour cherry that stood out on the palate. No sweetness on this wine to say the least compared to other bottles, but it was still very drinkable, just not as enjoyable as I remember. There was some good acidity on the finish, but a bit more heat than I remember. All in all, a nice wine, but it paled in comparison to other bottles. Still worthy of 89 points.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2007 Domaine de la Buissonne Côtes du Rhône Villages Beaumes-de-Venise

This wine has turned quite a bit since I last tried it last spring. It seems to have integrated nicely, and the alcohol has blown off, and the tannin has just 9 months no less. That said, I don't think this is a wine that you are going to want to cellar for the long term, but it should hold up for 3-5 years with no problem whatsoever.
Poured through the Vinturi into a decanter, and consumed over the course of 3 hours. On the nose, black cherry seemed to take the reigns, and I didn't get this at all on the prior two bottles. The nose is rounded out by some by some strawberry and raspberry, and really had a Central Coast pinot noir nose which I found a bit odd. There is still a tad of alcohol on the nose and a good swirl, but it was barely noticeable.
On the palate, that so called "grapieness" is long gone, and that is a beautiful thing. This wine has settled down in the mouth, and for the price, I am not one to complain. A bit of marichino cherry on the palate, with some nice Bubalicious strawberry and a hint of raspberry. There is also a hint of white pepper on the palate. The finish is short and dry, and not overly complex, but again, for $12 what do you want? There seems to be decent fruit on this wine, and I am guessing that another 12 months in the bottle will give it time to show even more. But as they say, time will tell. We'll see! For now, this is a decent quaffer and a nice daily drinker. 86 points.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2006 Lillian Syrah

Once again, a bottle sourced for the holidays, and popped and poured way too early! But when traveling and having to source, this is one of he few times that I don't mind committing the act of "infantcide," especially when there are more at home in the cellar and I am not tapping into that stash. This wine is definitely going to need some time to come around, but will be every bit as good as the '04 and '05. In the glass, this is a nice dark, purplish inky color. Very dark, and very attractive...I MEAN DARK! On the nose, some alcohol and oak as I expected with oodles and oodles of black fruits: blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, and boysenberry. Also has nice hints of raspberry and spice. On the palate, big and young is an understatement. Again, THIS WINE NEEDS some serious bottle time for it to come together, but even after an hour in the glass, it opens up nicely with blackberry, black cherry, and raspberry on the palate. Nice subtle spice and white/black pepper round out the palate. There are some hints of alcohol and acidity, and there are definitely some tannins on this wine, but this will round out in time. Our remaining 3 will sleep for a good 3-5 years before revisiting, but once again, Maggie has created yet another baby Sine Qua Non here, and this is going to be incredible with some age. 92 points now with some air, but it'll definitely gain a few more points based on complexity alone once everything integrates and comes together. Another winner! Kudos to Maggie! Decant 4-6 hours before consumption, but I would hold for 3-5 years unless you have many to play with. Cheers!

2007 Antica Terra Pinot Noir

Another bottle sourced for the holidays and popped way too early...well, maybe not as both of these bottles showed surprisingly well within 3 days of each other. This bottle however was popped and poured, and showed so much better than the bottle decanted on Christmas Eve. Very strange, but maybe this is better popped and poured right now, but it has me a bit confused! Regardless, this is only going to get better with some age. No crazy barnyard funk on the nose like the bottle on Christmas Eve. Nice fruit forward nose of strawbery, cherry, and blueberry, with very little hint of alcohol on the nose. On the palate, more cherry and strawberry, with more hints of spice. This seemed much more fruit foward than the last bottle, and again pretty uncharacteristic of Oregon to me compared to other Oregon pinot noir. Regardless, not a bad thing. Very pleasant finish made this bottle go down nicely, and another true pleasure. Kudos to Maggie Harrison for yet another great wine! 92 points!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

2007 Antica Terra Pinot Noir

Had to source for the holidays as I vowed not to check any luggage, so swung by Craig’s shop, Premier Cru Wine Merchants in Arlington Heights, and picked up the whole Maggie Harrison lineup. If there is one time that I think drinking something early is ok, it is when I have to source when travelling. Nothing wrong with taking one for the team here when I have to source from somewhere. That said, I popped and decanted one of these on Christmas Eve for about 2 hours at cellar temp in my parents cellar. This is the first ’07 A.T. I’ve popped, and the nose had me a bit scared. Initial nose was a bit frightening with all the funk. Tons of barnyard on the nose, with faint hints of strawberry and baking spice. Thankfully, the palate showed very well for something so darn young, and this was by far the most approachable ’07 Oregon pinot I had tried, though I will admit we haven’t popped many ‘07’s at all. The palate showed some nice dark black fruits: blackberry, boysenberry, and a hint of blueberry, with some strawberry and cherry. Obviously being so young, there is still some acidity, but the tannins seemed very mellow, and I found this wine to be very approachable. Some have mentioned that they find the ’07 to be a bit candied, but I don’t taste or smell any candied fruit in the least. I will however say that this does seem to show more fruit than most Oregon pinot noir. Not sure if it is just the wine, or if it is the vintage. Touch call. Regardless, my stepfather and I put this bottle down pretty quick, and I look forward to having another on one Sunday! 89 points. Cheers!

Monday, December 21, 2009

2006 Cambria Pinot Noir Julia's Vineyard

Popped and decanted for 45 minutes from 1/2 bottle. Same notes as before....however, this bottle was a bit sour on the finish with some heat, but it's expected as it's young. What I did however like on the finish was the nice orange tones that came through. I don't remember this at all in the first bottle.
Same red fruits on the nose for the most part, but there was nothing candied about this bottle, whereas the last had some candied fruits. There was nothing super bright about this bottle either, and the fruit was very subdued. Odd. Bottle variation? Probably. Off bottle, definitely not. Just wondering why this bottle shows no candied fruits at all. Very strange. Had to revisit this after seeing Parker name it his Wine of the Year...not a bad bottle in the least, but definitely lacked a lot from the last bottle. 86 points.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kenmore Elite Model #77563

Well, anyone that has been to our house, or knows us well knows how much we love to cook. Since we moved into our house, we have been looking for a new stove, but I've never pulled the trigger. It's been several years in the making, and after doing serious research for the last year, it's happened. We finally picked up the Kenmore Elite Model #77563 on sale on "Black Friday 2009," and had it delivered and installed today, 29 NOV 2009! I have been researching a new range for the longest time, and functionally and aesthetically, I kept coming back to this one. As of 8 hours after it's arrival, I have ZERO regrets. This was purchased from a local Sears in NJ, and I was given a 2 hour window for the delivery, and they showed up right within the window as specified. Robert, the driver / installer was very professional, and was just a darn nice guy to boot, as was his nephew that worked with him. Getting it in the house was no easy task. It was too big to get in the front door, so they had to bring i through our side gate, then lift it up over the house reel mounted to the house, and in through the side door. They pulled the old stove out for me, and brought in this hot new baby! Once they got it in, they hooked up the gas line, got the stove level, plugged in, removed all the packing, plastic, etc, and did a function check. Everything worked just as planned, and I couldn't be happier! "Please sign here" he said! After they left, I set the oven to 400 degrees as the manual states to burn off anything that might be inside. The oven warms up fast compared to our old one, and the temperature was less than 10 degrees off from the oven thermometer that I use (which could be off). I let it run for 60 minutes, and any funk that was in there was burned away. So what do I think of it you ask? Let me say that this is a beauty to look at! The stainless with the stainless steel top is absolutely gorgeous, and a feature that I really wanted. There is nothing at all wrong with the black top, but I find the stainless very sharp, and yes, I know it is going to be very difficult to keep clean. A sacrifice that we are willing to make! The control center is also a nice, sleek, black design, and seems to be very high tech. I am sure that it is going to take me some time to figure it all out, but I look forward to taking the time to do so. Tons of settings, from convection, to non-convection, broil, etc, etc. And I love the fact that it is touch screen! One of the most important features that made me choose this stove is because of the 5 burners. Is this a must? No, but it sure is nice to have. Let me first however say that the grates over the cooktop are very nice. They are quality made, and they definitely serve a purpose. More than anything, it is very nice to have a flat surface to work on if need be, and is perfect for cookie sheets, large cutting boards, etc. Much better than your standard round rings found on your typical stove, so you are not doing a balancing act while working on a cutting board on the stove top.
So back to the burners, here is what we have: Low output: one 5,000 BTU Precise Simmer burner. High output: one 12,000 BTU. All-purpose: four 9,500 BTU, and a High output: dual ring 18,000 BTU. Note that the stove and burners are all natural gas, not electric, and not dual fuel. Gas is a must for us! The center oval burner, along with the dual ring burner are what had me sold on this model. The dual ring burner is great for boiling water, as I experimented with just minutes after the install. This burner also works nice for simmering, with just the center ring lit, although, there is a simmer burner directly behind this one. The center oval shaped burner is the one that I really wanted, and one of the most important. If I am going to invest thousands of dollars on a standard 30 inch cooktop, I want to have that 5th burner. This will be great to add a griddle, or a ridged grill of sorts. I really look forward to making pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns, cheesesteaks, etc on the grill plate once we get one. There is actually a white page that came with the stove where you can order and accessory pack direct from Kenmore for $19.95. It comes with the griddle and some great other accessories. Unfortunately, you cannot order it online, but I do plan on putting a check in the mail tomorrow! Another great use for the large center burner I think will be for making gravy in your large roasting pan after baking your bird. It will sit perfect right on top of there. Is the 5th burner a necessity? Absolutely not, but it sure is great, and I am glad to have it. We'll see just how much use it'll get in the future! MUCH MORE TO COME, so stay tuned!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coltello - Crosswicks, NJ

After a quick visit to the Trenton City Museum for two openings tonight, Zelda and I headed over to Coltello in Crosswicks, NJ to visit Chef Dominic’s new venture. Coltello is located in the heart of Crosswicks on Main Street, in the location that used to be home to Café Giangella. The restaurant is set up the same way as the prior establishment, but it has a much warmer feel. You walk in the door and see the glass sign adorning the name Coltello, and are greeted by a small table, nicely dressed with tulips, candles, and a great picture of Chef Dominic and some family. The walls have been painted a nice dark green evergreen color, with gorgeous white trim and dark green curtains. The tables are topped with nice tablecloths, and finished off with place settings, a vase of tulips, and a candle. They did a great job decorating, and the place looks truly elegant. Shortly upon entering, we were greeted and asked if we had a reservation. Of course we didn’t but thankfully they squeezed us in. Needless to say we took the last 2 top, but there were still a few open tables, that had all been reserved. We pulled out the Riedel’s and a bottle of 2001 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro, and it was immediately opened by the gracious host Richard Sr. Upon looking over the menu, the first thing that I notice is the pricing. For the area, I have to say that this is the most reasonably priced, value priced menu for an Italian restaurant in the area. I won’t name other establishments, but I thought the pricing was better than most. Our bus boy came over shortly after, offering us tap or bottled water, and he was very friendly. The appetizers ranged anywhere from soups and salads, to stuffed breads, and many others. Unfortunately, they do not have the menu online yet, but I am sure it will be in just a matter of time. Our server came over shortly after, and she was very friendly. We ordered the Spedini to start, which is a stuffed bread appetizer, and continued to look over the menu. They also had a few nice specials tonight, ranging from an appetizer to entrees. Out came a nice basket of bread, as well as a gorgeous plate of olive oil infused with garlic, and topped with several whole cloves of garlic. This tasted as though the garlic had been soaking in there for years. It was awesome. Shortly after a bowl filled with sautéed onion, mushroom, some sort of Italian herb, and parmesan cheese came out, and this was to die for. I am not a big mushroom fan, but the way that these were cooked made it impossible not to shovel these onto my bread. It had a great crispness to it, and was just so flavorful. Zelda mentioned that it almost tasted as though this was baked. Absolute deliciousness! Our server came back and took our order. Zelda opted for the Tortolini with grilled chicken, and I went out of my norm and ordered Lobster Francaise. Shortly after ordering, our Spedini came out, and this was a gorgeous, large serving of skewered bread, stuffed with a ton of mozzarella cheese, then dipped in batter and friend to a golden brown. It was then topped with a nice marinara sauce, and garnished with just a few anchovies. The crispiness of the batter was very nice, and the red sauce was homemade and delicious! The anchovy added just the right amount of salt and flavor to the dish, and I think that this was a winner. Out came our salads after this, and we had both opted for the Caesar. This was a nice, light dressing, with very subtle flavors over a bed of fancy greens with cucumber and tomato. Perfect size portion as to not ruin our dinner after a heavy appetizer. By this time, the entire restaurant was filled with a few two tops, many 4 tops, and quite a few larger round tables. It was great to see the place packed, and great to see many familiar faces from The Little Flower, where Chef Dominic worked a few years ago on Farnsworth Avenue in Bordentown. It was like seeing the old gang hanging out, and it just screamed family. Out came our entrees, and they were both nicely sized. Zelda’s pasta came out in a giant bowl, and tasted as fresh as can be. I don’t know if they are making their pasta on premise, but it sure tasted like it. The flavors in the pasta were very nice, along with a great sauce, and very nicely cooked chicken. They chicken had a great grilled flavor, and a nice browned crisp to it. It was delicious, and I would definitely order this for myself sometime. My lobster came out with 2 nicely sized medallions, breaded and fried, served with a nice, rich sauce. The lobster was very tender, and cooked perfectly. There was no toughness to it in the least, and I couldn’t have cooked this any better. It was garnished with nice, fresh green beans, and a citrus sauce. Unfortunately, we were both stuffed, so we skipped coffee and desserts. By this time, we also saw some customers waiting, so we finished our glasses of wine, corked the ½ bottle we had remaining, paid our tab, and headed for home. On our way out, we popped our heads in the kitchen to congratulate Chef Dominic. Let me say that the kitchen was hoppin’, and absolutely immaculate. The grill in the back had all kind of things fired, and the stove had all the burners full with entrees cooking away. To the right side of the kitchen was a large salad station, where the servers were working away getting soups and salads ready to go out. It was great to see them working hard, and working as a team. All in all, this is a great place, and an up and coming new Italian restaurant that is going to thrive. Coltello has great ambiance, first class service with a smile, a great family feel, and most importantly, incredible Italian food with a personal flair. Crosswicks might be off the beaten path for some, but it is just a 7 minute drive off of Route 130, and absolutely worth the trip. This is definitely the best Italian BYO in the area, and it is just a matter of time before their name is on the map. Kudos to Richard Sr., Richard Jr., and Chef Dominic for putting family back in their food. This is just what the area needs, and I look forward to hearing experiences from others who frequent this great new restaurant. Chef Dominic has always been one of the most talented young chefs in the area, and I look forward to trying many more of his creations! Hopefully he’ll put his Chicken Oscar back on his new menu, or as one of his specials. This has always been one of my favorite dishes that he creates. Keep up the great work! Coltello 460 Main Street Crosswicks, NJ 08515 Phone: (609)298-6128

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

El Sham (Medditeranian) - Hamilton, NJ

After reading the reviews on Chowhound, we decided to try El Sham today for lunch. We both took the day off from work today, and it was very fitting being our anniversary. After watching the Rick Steves episode on Iran this morning, I was craving some middle eastern cuisine, and this was the perfect fit for my cravings! El Sham is just a 10 minutes drive or so for us, so it was nice and close. The place is in a strip mall, and I have no idea if this is a new strip mall, or if it has been there for a while. As you walk in, the counter where you order is tucked into the back left hand corner. In the front of the restaurant, 8 tables occupy the open space. The walls are a light blue color, and the restaurant is trimmed out in yellow. The place may not be fancy or romantic, but I can tell you that it is clean! You can eat off the floors in here, and it just looks pristine. They also have nice dark colored tables, and the place is no frills. For lunch, we started out with the hummus, that was served with a nice light oil on top, some green herbs, and 4 fresh pita slices. This was very nice, and I could eat a ton of it. For an appetizer, it is the perfect portion, and I actually left a little on the plate to use on my sandwich. Zelda opted for the falafel sandwich, which was a nice sized portion, with lettuce, tomato, and a tahini sauce served in a pita. She said that this was much better than the last one that she had at Moustache in Lambertville before they closed. From the bite that I had, the spices were very nice, and this had some damn good flavors to it! I opted for the shish kabob sandwich, which was a nice grilled lamb cubed and seasoned. Let me tell you that this was awesome! The lamb was hot off the grill, and when I say hot, I mean hot! It was served with a nice lettuce, tomato, onion, and tahini sauce. The seasonings on this were absolutely perfect, and I love the hot temp on the lamb. It was cooked perfectly, and was just damn tasty. I added some hummus to the sandwich, and I recommend doing the same. It makes for a nice combo. All in all, for $20 with a couple of sodas, this made for a bargain lunch! The ambiance isn't the fanciest, but what is important is that the food is authentic, and damn good! We definitely plan on going back and I look forward to trying one of their many different platters, and Zelda looks forward to trying their falafel platter or vegetarian mixed platter! It's nice to have a new place like this in the area, with goo service, and great food! Kudos to the crew at El Sham! El Sham 1641 South Olden Avenue Hamilton, NJ 08610 Phone: (609)931-0513 Fax: (609)931-0514

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2000 Opus One

I know that there are many non-believers out there who claim to hate Opus one, and I attribute a lot of this to the inflated price. I was lucky enough to pick up a few bottles of this wine a few years ago for around $70, and I have to say that for the money, this was one hell of a great wine! I grabbed this from the cellar where we hide all of our “gems,” as a pre-anniversary celebration bottle, since our anniversary falls during the week this year. This had about 45 minutes to warm up on the way to Fiddleheads in Jamesburg, NJ, and was popped and poured. Gorgeous deep garnet classic cabernet color in the glass, thinning towards the rim made this wine still look very youthful. As a lot of you know, 2000 is not known to be a stellar vintage for the Napa Valley, but this wine showed to prove this wrong, as have some of the other big hitters from this vintage. On the nose, this reminded me of a nice Bordeaux with some cassis, tobacco, earth, blueberry, and cherry, with the smallest hint of band aid / brett. On the palate, all kinds of red cherry, blackberry, pomegranate, and raspberry jam. Off vintage my foot, this wine has a great fruity, jammy, and velvety structure, with a bit of oak on the medium finish. All in all, this was a pleasure to drink, and I couldn’t think of a better wine that I expected so little from to date. This was darn good, and I wish I would have bought more at this price. Thankfully we still have one left that we’ll revisit 5 years down the road. For now, feel free to pop one of these, as I believe it is drinking in a beautiful place. After drinking an ’02 Insignia just a few weeks ago, I think that this wine would give it a run for its money, and is 94 points worthy. Cheers!

Fiddleheads - Jamesburg, NJ

So tonight we are celebrating our 3rd anniversary a few days early, and two weeks ago I made a reservation at Fiddleheads in Jamesburg, NJ, as it was a place that we wanted to try. Jamesburg is just a mere 30 minutes away, and after having lunch there last Saturday, I was really looking forward to our dinner celebration there. As with many local restaurants that we like to try, Fiddleheads is BYOB. We walked in and were promptly seated, and the owner, Brian, knew exactly who we were, and knew the last name. I am on their Facebook fan page, so he must have recognized the picture, and I think that that is just a bit of great customer service. Needless to say, we had a great two top in the front window, which we didn’t ask for, but I love tables like this, being able to look outside at the scenery, and to see the passerby’s. Upon sitting I pulled out our Riedel stems, and immediately popped the 2000 Opus one that I had selected from the cellar for our anniversary. Just a few moments later the busboy came over and filled our water glasses, and took their stems. And for the record, there is nothing wrong with the stems they have, we just like to bring out own. There really are not that many BYO’s we visit where we don’t bring our own stems. When drinking fine wine, we like to drink from our own glasses, and yes, the glass does make a difference, so we make sure that we enjoy the wine to the fullest. Brian then came over with the menu’s and specials, and it was decision making time. There were probably 5-6 dinner entrée specials, and a few that looked very good. After just a few minutes, our server Nick came over with a basket of bread and took our order. For our appetizer, we started off with the cheese plate for $11.50, followed by salads with a shallot dressing, and Zelda opted for the walnut penne with asparagus and cherry tomatoes, and I ordered the rack of lamb. First out was the cheese plate, which consisted of several pieces of 3 different cheeses. There was a New York cheddar, Dubliner, and a smoked gouda, served with a toasted baguette that was sliced, spiced pecans, and a smoked-fig jam. The cheeses themselves were delicious, and for the price, we received a nicely sized portion. You just cannot go wrong with a cheese plate in my opinion, and it was fabulous. The smoked-fig jam was tasty, and complimented the cheeses nicely. The baguette was nice and fresh, soft on the inside, with a great toasted crust on the outside. I really liked these! Next out were the green salads, with nice fresh greens, and a shallot dressing. The lettuce was nice and fresh, with fancy greens, and the shallot dressing had a very nice lite flavor of subdued shallot. There was nothing overpowering about the dressing, and it was very tasty. I could eat this often, although it did need a bit of salt and pepper to really bring out the flavors. Out came our entrees, and Zelda’s pasta came out and the portion was monster. The pasta was nice and light, with a gorgeous presentation. There was a ton of asparagus, and what she really liked was the fact that the tomatoes were fresh, vibrant, and not overcooked. I think the tomatoes were actually tossed into the pasta after it had been cooked, and allowed to warm up in the bowl. It was a winner. My rack of lamb came out, and it was huge, basted in a honey mustard, and topped with a nut crust. I am not sure what kind of nuts they were as they we ground, but I am guessing it was pistachio. The racks were cut in pairs, with a lot of the meat left on the bone, opposed to just the lollipops on the end. I ordered these medium rare, and they were cooked very nicely. What I really like is the fact that when I cut into these, they were smoking hot in the center. I have no idea how they get the center so hot, but it was perfect, and they were nice and juicy. The sauce, which was a tiny bit on the sweet side, complimented the lamb very nicely! This was served with a nice French cut green beans that were nice and fresh, with some good fresh crisp to them. There was also a nice heaping helping of no frills mashed potatoes, which may be the best I have ever had. They were nice and fluffy, with a gorgeous texture, hints of white pepper, and some good butter flavor. They were just how I like them, and not runny in the least. It was almost as though they use the smallest amount of cream or milk, and they are delicious! Chef Dan came out during our meal and asked how everything was, and of course we gave him our praise. He is doing a great job in his kitchen, and I think that they are turning out some great dishes! Unfortunately, our stomachs were filled beyond belief, and we had to pass on dessert, but we know for next time to save room. The cranberry bread pudding looked to die for, and hopefully we can make it back soon to give it a try before it goes out of season. The décor at Fiddlehead is nice and comfortable. I like their sage color scheme and dim lighting, and the place is just cozy. Faux brick adorns the walls in many places, as well as ferns and other plants on that were painted on the walls. The window seats have nice décor that changes seasonally, and they have a nice fall scheme in them right now. The staff is extremely attentive, and very professional, and the service was as good as it could be. Kudos to our waiter Nick for giving us such great service! All in all, I was much more impressed with their dinner menu than their lunch. I guess it is almost an unfair comparison as the lunch fare that we ordered, sandwiches, cannot really be compared to their dinner menu on the same scale, and at $61, I couldn’t be happier, and I could not eat anymore. We skipped coffee as well, and enjoyed our evening and the rest of the Opus One before heading home. In short, kudos to Fiddleheads, and we look forward to returning in the future. Cheers! 27 East Railroad Avenue (Rte. 522) Jamesburg, NJ 08831 Phone: 732.521.0878

Friday, October 23, 2009

2006 Sanford Pinot Noir

This was not as tasty as past bottles, but it was also popped and poured and consumed right away. This definitely benefits from air as it's still young by my book, and an hour splash decant would not hurt in the least. Still the same earthy cherry and strawberry notes on the nose, with subtle hints of spice. Still some strawberry notes and spice on the palate, but it seemed to be lacking that cherry cola that I have grown to love from the Santa Rita Hills AVA. The finish was short and a bit more acidic than past bottles, but again, this wine is still young in my book. Will revisit plenty of times in the future as this is always a wine that we buy many of, but at this point, I think that the Alma Rosa is more to my liking. Sanford just hasn't been the same without Richard and Thekla! Locals: Glendale on Quakerbridge Road has this wine for under $25 cash and carry. This is the best price that I have seen on this wine in the area. Cheers! 88 points.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2006 Melville Verna's Syrah

Today I had a very long day with work and then school, so I was craving a nice syrah after school. OK, I really wasn’t craving syrah, and any adult beverage would have done, but it was time to revisit this wine after a year. Popped and poured through Vinturi, and allowed to "decant" in the glass over the course of 2 hours. This wine has integrated very well from a year ago. The nose is still absolutely ridiculous with tons of berry, pepper, and spice. The alcohol is still a bit prevalent, but not nearly as it was with past bottles. Oodles and oodles of dark fruit and berries on the palate, but the blueberry seemed to be the shining star, with a little more white pepper than I like, but this was still delicious. The finish is no longer hot like it was in the past, and has integrated nicely with some white pepper notes. This is a fun wine, and for the price, it is worth searching out a few more bottles. Kudos to the gang over at Melville producing great, consistent wines! 91 points

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Daryl Wine Bar - New Brunswick,NJ

Sweetest Day 2009 at Daryl Wine Bar...full review to come! Vino by the glass: 2004 Wellington Zinfandel 2006 Khroma Cabernet Sauvignon First course: 3 cheese tasting Short rib neopolitan with a carrot ragu, onions, and parsnip Diver sea scallops with lentils Pomme frites 302 George Street New Brunswick, NJ 08901 Phone: 732.253.7780

Fiddleheads - Jamesburg, NJ

Full review to come! Lobster salad sandwich with capers and light dill mayo on a warm croissant The best burger in Jamesburg: 1/3rd pound black angus. I opted to add bacon, as well as a caramelized horshradish onion as well. 27 East Railroad Avenue (Rte. 522) Jamesburg, NJ 08831 Phone: 732.521.0878

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fusion II - Hamilton, NJ

What is there to say other than “WOW” about the new venture at Fusion II in Hamilton, NJ! We have visited Kenji’s Fusion on Route 33 in Hamilton on multiple occasions , and this is an incredible new venture from the same owner…and he did it up with style and class! Fusion II is located in the new shopping center in Hamilton off of Route 130, and absolutely no expense was spared to get this establishment up and running. Upon walking in, the first thing you will notice is the swanky, elevated sushi bar “in the round.” This is the focal point up the restaurant, surrounded by lighting, that goes from about 10 feet above the bar to the floor. The lighting also has a water feature installed, where the water drips down the length of the lights. This is a gorgeous feature, and took careful planning to make this look incredible. The restaurant itself has so many gorgeous features other than the sushi bar, from the painted black ceilings, to the stainless steel features on the walls, to the multi colored lighting, to the back stone wall with built in cubbies, etc, etc. Absolutely no expense was spared on making this place look amazing! I actually stopped in on Tuesday evening for takeout, but ended up going to their first location as we were craving some dishes off of their original menu. I got a grand tour of the place then, and had to bring Zelda back to see it for herself. The hibachi tables occupy the entire left side of the restaurant, with 4 in a row down the wall, that is adorned with blue lighting and a nice stainless steel ripple effect. In the back left hand corner of there restaurant, there is a private room with yet another hibachi table for private parties. This would be a great location to do a nice offline wine tasting! The hibachi tables are gorgeous, with nice lighting and huge stainless steel fume hoods. The counters on the tables are a nice, dark, laminated wood, and look fabulous. One thing I really like about the tables is the fact that they are not close together, and you do not feel crowded with another table right at your back. The tables and chairs were very comfortable, and there is no overcrowding to say the least. You can probably fit 10-12 comfortably at these tables. The menu is very diverse, entrees ranging from French, to Brazilian with some Asian Fusion flair! Tonight, we opted to sit at the hibachi tables, to give their hibachi a whirl. Next time we will shoot for eating off of their menu, to give their talented chef a shot at wowing us! One of the things we obviously love about Fusion II, as well as the original Kenji’s Fusion is the fact that it is BYOB. In these economic times, BYO is such a great option, especially when you have a 500 bottle cellar that is bulging at the seams! As we usually due when dining on Asian cuisine, I grabbed a pinot noir, a 2005 Alma Rosa La Encantada pinot noir to be exact. Regardless, the menu would be very accommodating to a wide array of wines, especially a nice Riesling or sauvignon blanc. The owner spent much time with us when we first sat down, telling us all about the construction process and materials he used for the restaurant. He also gave us a history of his new chef, as well as his sushi chef with a very impressive resume, and oodles of creativity. He actually hired his sushi chef from Nobu New York, and he is coming up with some new and exciting dishes that we have never seen before. Tonight, Zelda opted for a staple, and ordered the chicken teriyaki. I on the other hand went out of my norm and went for the scallops and shrimp. We both opted for the mushroom soup, which is included with your dinner, and it was not to disappoint. The broth for this soup is wonderful, and the thinly shaved shallot and green onion compliment the paper thin mushroom nicely. The pinot noir really complimented the soup nicely as well. Next out was the typical Asian salad, but the ginger dressing here could be the best that I have ever had. The salad was the perfect size, the lettuce was cold, and the dressing was very cold. The salad was vibrant and full of flavor, and what a treat it was! From here, the owner sent over one of his sushi chefs new creations. This was a nice yellow tail tuna, garnished with a citrus sauce, thin sliced jalapeño peppers, and cilantro. He brought it over and presented it to us, and told us exactly how to eat, with a small piece of cilantro with every bite. All I can say is awesome! The fish was very fresh and delicious, and the flavors exploded in your mouth. I wish I knew where he was purchasing his fish from, because this is some of the best we have ever had. During this same time the hibachi chef was doing his show, and you can tell that they are well practiced. Zelda has actually seen them out in the back of their restaurant practicing their moves before shift, and they try to wow you just like anywhere else you will go. First off the grill was my fried rice, which had nice flavors of garlic and spice. At the same time he was preparing the vegetables and a few pieces of shrimp for the table. And of course, in true hibachi style, then were flipping veggies to you to try to catch in your mouth, all to be washed down by some sake. Is that such a bad thing? =) The hibachi cooking continued, and off came my shrimp and scallops. They looked nice, and had a nice caramelization to them. Zelda’s chicken came off shortly after, and this too was cooked very nicely. Some will say that hibachi is hibachi no matter where you go. To a point, I will agree with this, but this really hit the spot. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, and there was no toughness to them whatsoever. The scallops too were grilled up very nicely, and they were very nice and tender, and clean. There was no grittiness to them at all, and they were sweet and succulent. Hibachi definitely did not disappoint, and we were stuffed to the gills with all of the food. Yet, we still were not done yet as the sushi chef came over yet once again, with a final “mini boat” of sushi for each of us. Yikes! Do we really have any room left? Absolutely not, but you know this will not go to waste! First up was a tuna with a tofu sauce. At first, I wasn’t sure that I would be crazy about this, but it turned out to be amazing. The tuna was fresh, and the tofu sauce was delicious! I am not a big fan of tofu, but whatever he used to make this sauce was fabulous, and I would definitely eat it again. Next up was salmon and tomato, with yet another amazing piece of fish, and beautiful tomato. These complimented each other very nicely, and it was a treat. Next up was an eel with avocado. I wish I knew for sure what was in here, but there was some kind of chopped nuts perhaps, and a nice smokiness and sweetness to it. I am not a big fan of eel, but this opened my eyes to just how tasty eel can be. Gorgeous! Next was tuna with an onion sauce, and yet another amazing cut of fish, and a sauce that could be eaten by itself. This was my second favorite. My favorite however had to be the wagyu beef. This was shaved thing and lightly grilled with some awesome flavors. The dab of wasabi on top made this delectable! Finally, the last was a palate cleanser with a piece of cucumber, and a dab of a soy mixture that was very refreshing, and left our palates clean and refreshed. This was a nice touch. Next course should have been dessert, but at this point you couldn’t have shoved anything else down our throats, so we will have to take them up on dessert the next time. The dessert menu does however feature some good looking dishes, from bananas foster to tempura ice cream, and I for one am looking forward to it. All in all, I have nothing to say other than incredible! As Zelda stated, we were treated like the Rockefeller’s tonight with amazing service, great food, and a whole lot of comps for us to try. The place is gorgeous, swanky, and just what this area needs. I think that once word gets out on the talented sushi chef and modern atmosphere, people will be coming from all around to experience the real deal for themselves. Kudos to Fusion II on taking an over the top risk with this place. It will definitely pay off in the long run! Cheers!
553 Route 130, Suite 320
Hamilton, NJ 08691
Phone: 609.581.7888
Fax: 609.785.0010
Mon-Sat 11:00am - 3:00pm
Mon-Thurs 4:30pm - 10:00pm
Fri & Sat 4:30pm - 10:30pm
Sunday Noon - 9:30pm

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2007 Thompson Street Pinot Noir "Posse"

This wine has really come a long way with just a mere 5 months in the bottle. Enjoyed this today with neighbors, and was shocked. We're still sitting on several cases of this juice, letting it rest in the cellar before popping one. From drinking today, I don't know how much longer I'll be able to resist. This truly is a nice drinker. The alcohol has totally blown off of this wine, which is a bit surprising. From the nose, there are no hints of alcohol whatsoever, and it has integrated nicely(14%).
Again, this is not your Santa Barbara County, fruit forward pinot. This is a much more subdued, floral pinot from the Santa Cruz Mountain Region. On the nose, some strawberry and cherry, and a very floral bouquet are prevelant. Hints of spice and vanilla round out the bouquet, making it very pleasant.

On the palate, there is still a bit of acidity, but what do you expect for a wine that has only been in the bottle for 5 months? This wine is very light to medium bodied, with a creamy/velvety texture. Lots of strawberry on the front and mid palate, with hints of oak, vanilla, spice, and even a hint of baking spice and cinnamon. The finish, although far from perfect, gives off hints of cranberry and strawberry, with a touch of acidity. All in all, for a first offering, this is a damn tasty wine, and one hell of a daily drinker/QPR.

We'll pop into one of ours around Christmas time with the in-laws and brother and sister in-law. Fine juice, coming around nicely, but not nearly as Burgundian as when we tasted this prior to bottling. Interesting, but darn tasty!  This will develope nicely for 3-5 years easily!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bordentown Farmers Market 2009

What a great job the city commissioners have done to get a Farmer's Market started every Wednesday in Bordentown City, NJ!
At first, I have to say that I was a little skeptical that there was no way the locals would support this, but it sure has seemed to take off! The last two weeks have generated over 400 visitors each Wednesday, and the vendors keep coming back, so that is definitely great news!
When you think of a Farmer's Market, most people think produce. Definitely not the case here, and the vendors range anywhere from produce, to blown glass jewelry, to fabulous baked items, to chicken and fresh cheeses! WOW!
I have visited the Farmer's Market the last 3 Wednesday's, and I have yet to leave empty handed. The produce that the local farmer's are bringing in are better than you will find at your local Acme, Shop Rite, or even Wegmans, and you can be guaranteed that everything is being locally grown. And note that you will not just have one farm stand to choose from for your produce as there are many.
Here is an example of some locally grown cherry tomatoes. Look at the color on these! Yes, there are grown right here in Jersey. And t think, that you have 3-5 different vendors bring out gorgeous produce like life. Life is definitely good in Bordentown City, and other towns would kill to have something like this on a weekly basis!
But again, it is not just produce. There is also a vendor that has been back every week who has anything from fresh mozzarella cheese, to difference kinds of sausage made from chicken, or pork, and he also carries fresh, local Griggstown chicken. Hopefully next Wednesday I can get a snapshot on my Blackberry of his different offerings. But from what a neighbor has said, the sausage is incredibe!
3 weeks in a row I have purchased fresh bread there, ranging from baguette, to spinach and mozzarella Stromboli, to pepperoni and cheese Stromboli. These are soft as can be, and just take a few minutes to warm up in the oven. The last 2 Thursday's, we have made dinner and Friday lunch out of these, and at just $5 a piece for 2 meals, can you really go wrong?
All in all, these is a great attraction for the Bordentown locals, and is starting to draw in a crowd from out of town.
So, give me the details:
Who: Bordentown City Farmer's Market brought to you by the Bordentown City Commissioners with technical assistance from Burlington County's Dept. of Resource Conservation.
What: Farmer's Market
Where: The Municipal Lot off of Farnsworth Avenue behind the Farnsworth House.
Why: to bring locally grown, raised, blown items to town to make purchasing these items more convenient.
When: Every Wednesday from 3PM-7PM.
Stay tuned next week as I will pick 3 vendors to interview, and do a short write up about them and the items that they are selling. Until then, enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Peking Duck House - Midtown Manhattan

What can we say about Peking Duck House other than WOW! If you are a fan of Peking Duck, this is a must visit restaurant! This is by far the best duck I have ever had, and what a place to host an "offline wine tasting." Special thanks to Wine Spectator Board Member Board-O for organizing this advenceture, and it was truly great to finally meet so many great people! More information on the event to come! The Wines: -1999 Bollinger Grand Annee Rose -NO VINTAGE Dr. Konstantin Frank Celebre -2000 Corton-Charlemagne (Vincent Girardin) -2003 Christtoffel Erben Urziger Wurzgarten Auslese *** -1989 Brand Turckheim Riesling Vendange Tardive (Zind Humbrecht) magnum -2003 Merry Edwards Klopp Ranch Pinot Noir -2004 Sine Qua Non Covert Fingers -1976 Volnay-Santenots (Ampeau) -1989 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou -2003 Gemstone Facets -2003 Kistler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir -2002 Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir -2004 Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine, Lirac In attendance: Different Dave, Board-O, Wine+Art, Double D, F. Scott and Zelda Fitz, mareff, T-Bird & Mrs. What a great night! More to come! 236 East 53rd St. (Between 2nd & 3rd Ave.) New York, NY, 10022 Phone:(212) 759-8260

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bistro One 53 - Rocky Hill, NJ

Tonight Zelda was taking me out to dinner to celebrate my birthday, and we opted to give Bistro One 53 a try in Rocky Hill. Rocky Hill is located just a few minutes North of Princeton off of Route 206, and Bistro One 53 is one of it's treasures. We came to Bistro One 53 and were greeted by off-street parking, which is a bonus compared to some restaurants in the Princeton area, or other nearby areas such as Bordentown or Lambertville. I had no problems finding a spot, and once parked, we walked up to the restaurant. Upon walking up to the door, we were greeted by a simple looking exterior, with sharp lines and nice coloring. The exterior might be a bit understated, but sometimes less is more! Upon walking in, the owner immediately sat us at a two top for our reservation at 6:30PM. Looking around the restaurant, there were a few 5 and 6 tops already seated, and various 2, 3, and 4 tops sipping cocktails, having appetizers, enjoying their dinners, or enjoying a nice conversation with the owner. The décor in the restaurant is nice and warm. Gorgeous, light wood grain garnishes the bar, and serves as accents around the restaurant. Warm, golden yellow walls adorn the restaurant, and it makes for a very cozy place to enjoy some conversation and great food. Gerard was our server, and very friendly. We started off with two glasses of '06 pinot noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Unfortunately, I cannot remember which wine it was exactly...shocking, I know! I am usually very good with this. Regardless, we ordered our wine, and it came out just a minute or so later, along with some fresh bread and a dipping sauce. The dipping sauce was very interesting, and we were not able to dissect it to figure out what it was made from. Chickpeas perhaps? Hard to tell, but it was nice. On to the menu...WOW! There are many great items on this menu that I look forward to coming back to try. The appetizers range anywhere from 4 different salads, to foie gras, to a cheese plate. Many of them looked great as we saw them coming out of the kitchen and on to customers tables! We opted for the Maine Mussels in White Wine Broth with Garlic Toast, and we were not disappointed. Out came this big bowl of mussels, and they looked and smelled gorgeous. The mussels were delicately cooked, and were absolutely perfect. The broth was composed of a nice white wine, and had a hint of tomato to it, giving it a nice light color, and adding a nice flavor. There were also hints of garlic and butter, and it was served with a nice piece of garlic toast, that was perfect for dipping in the tasty, leftover broth. All I can say is that this is a winner, and I look forward to trying it again once we try some of the other offerings. On to dinner, Zelda opted for the Asparagus Ravioli with Morel Mushrooms and EVOO, with a side of French Lentils. Note that the sides are ala cart, but that is not a big deal. The ravioli itself was extremely fresh, and I found it to be absolutely perfect...from the pasta itself, to the cheese, to the subtle hints of asparagus packed inside. The sauce itself was light and flavorful, and perfectly seasoned. There was also a healthy dose of asparagus, as well as round, thing sliced pieces of asparagus, and morel mushrooms. This was a great dish. As for the lentils, this is the only gripe I think that we have about Bistro One 53(other than the fact that it is not a BYO). Although the lentils were cooked nicely, with good flavor, they seemed to be a bit on the gritty side, and could have used a better bath before being cooked. Overall, not that big of a deal. I opted for the Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops with wilted Lettuce & Pancetta/Mustard Vinaigrette. Shortly after ordering, I couldn't help but ask Gerard to also add a side of the Hand-Cut French Fries with Truffle Mayo. These were coming out of the kitchen left and right, and I didn't see a single table without them. I had to give them a try! Out came the scallops, and the presentation was beautiful. 4 nice, large, and succulent scallops surrounding a nice helping of the warm lettuce salad. Each scallop had a small piece of chive garnishing it, and it looked gorgeous. The scallops were cooked exactly how I like them, and they were nice and tender, and cooked right all the way through. These were seasoned perfectly, and I have ZERO gripes about them. The salad itself was nice, and the pancetta was diced very small, giving it a nice flavor. There was a very pungent taste to the salad, which added a nice complexity. It was very citus-y, but we couldn't put our fingers on it, and had to ask Gerard. Turns out it was just small pieces of lemon, and we're guessing that it may have been Meyer lemon. Whatever it was, it was delish, and I would order it again. Unfortunately, we skipped dessert and opted to hit the local ice cream shop in town instead. They did however bring out 4 small gingerbread like cookies, that had a nice chocolate chip inside. These were a treat, and I would love to have a handful of these after lunch every day. They were great! Overall, I can't say anything but great things for Bistro One 53, and we look forward to frequenting again very soon. A few random notes: One of the things that stuck out the most is the customer service! From the time we walked in and were greeted by the owner, to our waiter Gerard, to the bus staff, to the food runners. The service was great and spot on. I really enjoyed was seeing the owner working the room, and taking the time to chat with his regular customers. This is something that you don't see enough of anymore, and it seems as though he truly cares. Yes, I know he is in business to make money, but the conversations we overheard seemed genuine. I also like the fact that he seems to know a thing or two about wine, and that is a bonus. Restaurants we've been to in the past just seem all about the best deals they can get on wine from their distributor, that have the largest margins of profit. His markups didn't seem to be outrageous in the least, and he had a nice, diverse selection of some wines we have enjoyed in the past. Some notables included Frog's Leap, Conundrum(love it or hate it), Seghesio, and Ojai. Check them out on June 11th for a book signing with Benjamin Wallace, who wrote The Billionaire's Vinegar. We hope to make this event, and again, it solidifies my thought of the owners love for vino. They also have a cellar downstairs that you can reserve for larger parties, to have dinner in the cellar. This is a feature that I absolutely love, and something that I hope that we get to try in the future. Ambiance: it's simple, but elegant. This is a place that I would have no problem stopping at in a suit for a drink or dinner, or in blue jeans after a casual day of shopping. They also have a nice bar that seats about a dozen, and it would be a great place to grab a sandwich instead of sitting at a table. The place is just the right size, and you aren't overwhelmed by the size of the dining room, yet you are not feeling confined either. All I can say, is keep up the great work, and we look forward to frequenting Bistro One 53 many times in the months to come! More notes when I get a chance! Cheers! ONE 53153 Washington Street Rocky Hill, NJ 08553 Call Us : 609.921.0153 Email Anytime : Online Directions : google map link

Zoe - An American Bistro - Little Silver, NJ

Birthday lunch at: Zoe - An American Bistro 151 Markham Place Little Silver, NJ 07739 Full review to come!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pizzuto Ravioli - Eatontown, NJ

Well, after a long time of no time to write, I took a few minutes today from the normal grind and took a walk off the fort, to check out the new Italian deli up the road here in Eatontown.
Pizzuto Ravioli just opened up a few weeks ago, and is a welcome addition to the Eatontown area. The real beauty about "PR" is the fact that I can walk there just as fast as it would take me to walk across the parking lot here on the fort to get to my car. In less than 5 minutes, I can be browsing the incredible selection of fresh pasta, cheese, various meats, and many deli case style cooked dishes.
Pizzuto Ravioli
17-15 Main Street / Route 35
Eatontown, NJ 07724
Phone: (732)544-2000
FAX: (732)544-2003
Unfortunately, their website is not up and running yet, but hopefully it will be in a few weeks. In the meantime, there is a link with their menu on FLICKR located HERE.
Upon first walking in, this place really reminded me of the new Dolce & Clementes located in Robbinsville. They had a lot of the same meats & cheeses, as well as many options for fresh, as well as frozen and dried pastas.
It's nice to see a great selection of freshly sliced Boar's Head meats & cheeses in the deli case, as well as the many different freshly prepared dishes, ranging from baked ziti, to chicken parm, to sausage & peppers, to lasanga. I could go on and on as there were a good 30 dishes in the case, warmed to order.
On the back wall is a list of 24 of their signature sandwiches, all made to order. I opted for "The Brooklyn," comprised of grilled sausage (your choice of hot or sweet), adorned with fried red & green peppers, and topped with melted provolone cheese on a freshly backed torpedo roll!
Unfortunately, I did not ask if they made their sausage their fresh, but it sure was tasty. I opted for the sweet, and it was seasoned very nicely, and just had an all around good flavor. The peppers too were pain fried nicely, and gave the sandwich some noce complexity. Top it with some melted provolone, and you have a winner.
Some other things that look exciting, that I also look forward to trying are their many different stuffed bread, ranging from stromboli, to spinach & mozz, the meatball, chicken, etc. They also have a large selection of wraps, hot and cold subs, salads, and fresh breads and rolls.
In short, this is a nice breath of fresh air for something to be walking distance from the office, and I look forward to trying their other items. Hopefully their website is up and running soon so you too can see what they have to offer! Cheers!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2006 Tamaya Syrah Pink Goat

The second bottle of 2 on this gorgeous Spring NJ afternoon! This is such a fun rose that we always have fun drinking. Today was no exception out on the bistro. Formal notes to come, and worthy of 88 points. Cheers!

2006 Fess Parker Viognier

This might not be the best viogier out there, but it sure was tasty. Bottle number 1 of 2 after the NCAA Women's Semi Finals at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton. This was a great "bistro wine," and worthy of 86 points. Formal notes to come!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

2007 Trader Joe's (Adler Fels) Pinot Noir Grand Reserve

What can you say about this pinot for under $10 from a great region in California? Delicious for the money, and easily worth of 87 points. Brought over the party at Ricky Boy's Firehouse. Formal notes to come!

Friday, March 27, 2009

2006 Taz Pinot Noir Fiddlestix

Unfortunately, this didn't measure up to previous vintages, but it was still very drinkable. Paired nicely with sushi at Tsukasa. Formal notes to come!

Tsukasa Japanese Restaurant

What can we say other than another great dinner at Tsukasa tonight. Formal notes to come: Appetizer: shrimp tempura Rolls: Spicy Tuna Roll, Philly Roll, Spicy Salmon Roll, California Roll, and Shrimp Tempura Roll... 1 1/2 Crosswicks Street Bordentown, NJ 08505 Phone: (609)298-3838 12:00pm - 9:00pm Tuesday - Saturday 3:00pm - 8:00pm Sunday (609) 298-3838

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Far East Taste - Eatontown, NJ

Well, the pictures aren't the best in the world, but what do you want from a PDA anyway? After a morning of looking forward to my world famous enchiladas con salsa verde that I made last night, I ended up taking a walk with some of the guys from the office to the Far East Taste, right out the gate here and up the hill. Years ago, this was a great spot from what I have read in several reviews, and the old owner, Richard, had some serious talent. Upon arrival, it was a little odd to see the store front right on Main Street, but the entrance was in the read. You walk down a long, narrow hallway, and are greeted at the host stand. We were then brought down a step, and seated in the small dining room, with mirrors on the wall, with the lower wall adorned in marble looking formica. There was definitely nothing fancy about this place, but it's close to the office, so that is a plus. Upon looking at the menu, there are several lunch special listed, along with a few other specials on a hand written board. I didn't look through the entire menu as we were pressed for time, and had to get back to the office, but they have many "Pan Asian" selections that are Thai influenced. I started off with a Thai Ice Tea since I gave up the soda for Lent, and it was your classic tea. They also brought over a pot of hot tea for us to sip on. For lunch, I went with one of my staples, the shrimp in garlic sauce, also known here as the L17. This came with my choice of of wonton soup, egg drop soup, or an eggroll, so of course I went with the eggroll. The eggroll came out out, and although it was not as golden brown and fried as it could have been, it was nice and hot, and not greasy at all. I don't know if they pre-fry these, and then keep them in the oven, or if they just bake them, but there was zero grease on this. The vegetables were nice and crisp, and very fresh, and the eggroll wrapper had a nice crunch. There were also small bits of prok, along with the cabbage and other veggies. It could have about 10 degrees warmer, but it was still pleasant. Shortly afterwards, the entrees came out, and we had substituted pork fried rice for the white rice. This was nice, with small pieces of bbq pork, as well as some chunks of onion. The onion was a little much for me, which is something that I usually have no problem with, but I like to see it diced a little smaller. Regardless, there were only a few larger pieces that I ate around with no problem. The rice had a nice flavor, but it was lacking something that I cannot put my hands on. It was also almost as though it had sat up in the window a bit too long, and dried out some. It also seemed to be a bit on the greasy side, but what do you want for something that is wok fried? Out came the rest of the entrees about 30 seconds later, and for a lunch portion, mine was decent in size with 9 shrimp, and a while lot of vegetables ranging from flat cut carrots, to broccoli, to green peppers, celery, and onion. The garlic sauce was nice, had the perfect amount of spice to it, and was very pleasant...and I didn't feel as though I needed to rush back to the office to brush my teeth, although I did anyway. Overall, this was a nice dish, and I would more than likely order it again. In short, this is a nice place for the money, and a close walk from the office without having to worry about losing a good parking spot and having to park six blocks away. A shrimp special with a healthy portion of medium sized shrimp for under $9 with friend rice is a pretty good deal in my book. I would not however go out of my way to visit this restaurant, but it is good for some comfort food, and I would consider it good. Next time around, I will try something else to compare more things on their menu. Don't go there expecting ambiance, because you will definitely be disappointed, but if you're looking for a quick lunch with good spice, this is a good option. Cheers! 19 Main Street Eatontown, NJ 07724 Phone: (732) 389-9866