Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kenji Fusion Asian Bistro - Hamilton, NJ

In an area where it is hard to find good Asian Cuisine, Kenji Fusian Asian Bistro has been a breath of fresh air! Somehow however, I have never blogged on Kenji from previous visits, so here I am, fresh from dinner, sitting on the couch enjoying some nice pinot noir, as I type with the movie Sideways on in the background. Tonight I called Kenji to get a reservation, and was lucky to get us in within the hour. That said, I brushed my teeth, and off we went on the short 15 minute drive to Kenji. Upon arriving, the restaurant was packed to the gills as always, and we were greeted by the owner, and he asked if we wanted to sit at the sushi bar. This was a good call on his part, and appreciated. The sushi bar is the heartbeat of this restaurant, and there is lots of action going on there. Unfortunately, there are only about 10 tables at the sushi bar, so it was nice to get a seat there. They also have a nice flat screen TV hanging on the wall, so it's nice for all of you sports buffs as they always have ESPN or other sports networks on. One of our favorite things about Kenji is the fact that they are a BYOB establishment. That being said, we brought an Iris pinot noir, which is becoming a staple in our house. Sure, a nice sauvignon blanc or other white would have paired better maybe, but pinot went very well with all of the dishes that we had tonight. To start off, we ordered the Haru Maki, which is a crispy Japanese spring roll. These came out piping hot, with a side of sweet and sour, and a side of hot mustard. After letting them cool, the first bite was absolutely delicious, and exposed the steam as the center of these was on fire! Great vegetables to include mushroom, carrots, cabbage, and a rice noodle. These are always a favorite of ours, and a great way to start. From there we went to the land of sushi. Zelda and I both opted for a shrimp tempura roll each, which is one of our favorites. Crispy tempura shrimp wrapped in nori and rice, with sesame seeds and a sweet, almost teriyaki like sauce. These are always delicious, and a treat. Zelda also opted for a spicy salmon roll, and I opted for a spicy tuna roll. These were both incredible, and you Could tell just how fresh the fish was. Kenji has sushi down to a science, and it is always amazing to watch how fast the rolls fly out of the bar. Kudos to the three gentleman working the sushi bar tonight! By this time, I was more than content, and could have gone home happy, but that was not the case tonight, and there is nothing wrong with going home with a little bag of leftovers. That said, we opted to split the General Tso's chicken. As always, this is fried up nice and golden brown, with a heaping helping of chicken, broccoli, and the delicious homemade sauce that they make. One again, this dish came out smoking hot, and was an absolute pleasure. The outside was crispy, hot, and fried as perfect as it gets, yet the inside was putting off steam, and was nice and juicy. This is such a great dish, and they have the preparation down for this dish. We also opted for a side of chicken friend rice, and this too was delicious. Everything comes out of the kitchen so hot, and you can tell that it is their priority to serve the entrees as they come up in the window. There is nothing hard or special about fried rice, but it was great, with loads of thinly sliced chicken strips, carrots, peas, onion, and egg. This rice was not over seasoned in the least, and was a perfect example of how fried rice should be. Another kudo to the Kenji crew. What can we say about this place other than awesome? This is exactly what our area has been needing, and a breath of fresh air. We used to complain that there were no good Asian places withing a half hour, with the exception of Elements Asia, where the owner of Kenji used to work. Now, he has his own place, and it's even better. The ambiance at Kenji is just what an Asian Fusion restaurant should look like. The dining room is dark, with nice stainless steel on the ceiling to give it a bit of an industrial look. One wall is lit in blue light, while another wall is lit up in red with bamboo stalks. A flatscreen greets you in the lobby, while another hangs in the back over the sushi bar. Finally, they have great music playing in there, with anything from U2, to techno, to jazzy fusion...absolutely perfect for the setting. In closing, what is there to say? Great food, great service, and great prices. And even better news, look for them to be opening Fusion II in the new shopping center on Route 130 near in Hamilton 1/2 mile south of the Hamilton Marketplace! We wish them the best, and look forward to dining with them again in the near future! Cheers! 1280 Route 33 Hamilton, NJ Phone: (609)785-0008 Web:

CoolVines Tasting - Springing Into March

This was the first wine today in the CoolVines - Princeton tasting. On the nose, there was some apricot, melon, pear, and hints of gooseberry. No cat pee on the nose on this New Zealand surprisingly. On the palate, there were some hints of pear and guava, but surprisingly, I couldn't catch a whole lot else on the palate. The acidity was crisp, with a simple finish that was a bit on the tannic side, but what do you expect with such a young wine. All in all, this is an easy drinker, and would be nice on the deck during the summer. Not much complexity only warrant this wine 83 points, but for the money, it has a decent QPR.
This was the second wine today, unfortunately I was not all that impressed. The nose to me was very reminiscent of "Pal" bubble gum(call me crazy), and some hints of pineapple and pear. On the palate, this wine was very drinkable, but not all that complex to warrant a high score. There was some more pear on the palate, with some apricot, and maybe a hint of honey. Very short finish with subtle acidity make this wine a good summer sipper, but I wouldn't go out of my way to find it, but for the price, you really cannot go wrong. 80 points.
Even though today's wines weren't of the normal caliber that CoolVines has, they were great price point wine, and good values for those who may not consider themselves connoisseurs. For the money, you really cannot go wring with ether of these wines, and they will both make nice summer sippers. Kudos to Mark and the CoolVines gang. Cheers!

Friday, February 27, 2009

2003 Château Malmaison Baronne Nadine de Rothschild

Brought to La Mezzaluna - Princeton tonight, and allowed to open up for about an hour on the table. Nice dark color in the glass with hints of dark fruit, mainly blackberry.
On the palate, this wine has really mellowed out from the first one that we had, which I find a little hard to believe, but maybe it was bottle variation, or maybe it was because of the rumor that others have stated, that there are different bottlings done at this Chateau, and the labels are then put on later. I wish I knew.
This wine did a complete 180 from the last one that we had. The acidity and tannin were nicely integrated, and the fruit was shining with more dark fruits, with hints of jammy raspberry, strawberry, and a bit of oak.
The finish was much smoother than the last bottle, and I actually would not have guessed that this was an 80% merlot to 20% cabernet sauvignon blend. I thought that the cab had dominated. All in all, a nice wine with a smooth finish worthy of 90 points. Cheers!

La Mezzaluna - Princeton, NJ

Tonight we were invited to dinner with Mike, Gabi, and Charnel at La Mezzaluna in Princeton. This is yet another restaurant that we have walked past countless times, but have never taken the time to dine at. What a true pleasure it was tonight, and it will not be our last time there!
Mike had called and made reservations with the owner, who is a friend of his, so we met them there. Upon walking in, and even walking by in the past, I had always thought this was a small little hole in the wall. With only 3 tables in the front room, you would never guess that the back room opens up to a nice large dining room, with vibrant colors, sexy lighting, and stainless steel topped tables. We were seated at a nice booth in the back of the restaurant that seated 6 people comfortably. Within 20 minutes, there was not an open table in the restaurant, and Princeton was out on the town at 8:30 on a Friday night.
As the owner, who's name I cannot remember escorted us to our table, he already had the wine glasses out, and had taken our wine. The first thing I notice is the nice Schott glasses. These are by far the nicest stems I have seen at a restaurant in a long time, and adds a very nice touch. I wish more restaurants would use this philosophy, although we usually bring our own stems when were are dining by ourselves at a BYO.
We started off with appetizers, and being a Friday in Lent, we had to stay away from the meats. That being said, Zelda and I decided to split the gnocchi appetizer, served with nice vodka sauce, accompanied by cherry tomato, sun dried tomato, and fresh leaf of spinach. This had great flavors, and I would definitely order this again. Other appetizers at the table included a shrimp ravioli that looked incredible, as well as a nice risotto that Mike and Gabi shared. In short, the appetizers came out fast, looked gorgeous, and were nice sized portions!
So onto dinner, Zelda ordered the risotto special, that was filled with rock shrimp, zucchini, eggplant, and touch of pesto. The shrimp on this dish could very well be the most perfectly cooked shrimp I have ever, which is a very bold statement considering how much shrimp I eat. The flavor in the risotto itself was absolutely incredible, and she stated, it reminded her of the risotto we ate on our honeymoon in Italy. This was as authentic as it gets, and right here in Princeton! Life is good!
As much as I wanted to order one of the fish dishes on the menu, I opted for the Capellini, filled with shrimp, clams, mussels, sun-dried tomatoes, and baby spinach in a white wine garlic sauce. There is nothing complex about this dish in my opinion, but they did it absolutely correctly. The seafood was all cooked perfectly, and the pasta was perfect. The flavors melded together very nicely, and this too was a pleasure. This is a dish that I could eat over and over, and I could never have too much garlic! I love pasta served in a white wine garlic sauce, and this was no exception. Delish!
Other dishes at the table included the Dorado. This was absolutely gorgeous, and filleted table side. The fish came out with a gorgeous crispy skin, and our server did a great job filleting it. She has definitely had some practice with this, and had it down to a science. This dish smelled gorgeous, and I look forward to going back and trying it for myself in the future.
Char wanted to eat lite and ordered the warm braised duck salad, with crisp goat cheese, butter lettuce, toasted almonds and agro dolce vinaigrette. This looked very nice as well, and was a good sized. Unfortunately, I forgot what the second Mike ordered.
We were told that we could not pass on dessert, and that the hazelnut gelato was to die for. I took that advice, and went for a scoop of the hazelnut, as well as a scoop of the vanilla. This was absolutely incredible, and made right there in house. What a treat! Mike and Gabi ordered the flambe, and topped with hazelnut gelato. The owner came out and cooked this table side, and it consisted of fresh strawberry, raspberries, and blueberry, and looked and smelled delicious! This will definitely be ordered the next time we return.
We capped the night off with the owner's homemade limoncello, which he delivered himself, and this was a nice treat. This was a very smooth limoncello, compared to the "knock your socks off" limoncello that I make every year. I really enjoyed this as it was super smooth, and very easy to sip, and I especially enjoyed the conversation we had with the owner/chef. He is a class act.
All in all, a fabulous meal, with great service, in a cozy atmosphere. La Mezzaluna is the real deal, and we look forward to making this a place that we frequent. As an added bonus, La Mezzaluna is BYOB, so grab a bottle of your favorite Super Tuscan wine, and enjoy a great evening out! Cheers!
La Mezzaluna
25 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ
Phone: 609-688-8515
Fax: 609-688-8518
Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures tonight, and all the pictures that I found online were out of date, so I did not find it fair to post these pictures here as it would not give a feel for the restaurant as it is seen today.

Finding fish & chips in Central Jersey for Lent...

So with the Catholic season of Lent upon us, it always inspires me to look for a place that has good fish and chips in the area. Unfortunately, I have have found little success in doing so, so my question to you is, where do you go in New Jersey for fish and chips? There is currently a thread on Chowhound, however, none of those places seem to be in the Trenton Metro.
There is also the Dublin Square Pub coming soon, but not being here yet, it really doesn't do a lot of good. We've had the fish & chips at Triumph in Princeton, as well as The Inn at the Hawk in Lambertville, and they are OK, but there has to be better in the immediate area.
So my question to you Foodies and Chowhounds is this: Where in central Jersey do you go for fish and chips? Cheers, and a happy Lent season to all of you! What did you give up for Lent?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

2006 Leviathan

Tonight I decided to pull one of these out of the cellar in celebration of Zelda's Mom's birthday at her favorite pizza place, DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies on Hamilton Avenue in Trenton. I know, you want to know why we always specify Hudson, Robbinsville, or Hamilton. Well, long and short of it is because Hudson Street was always the best, then the Amico family opened up the Robbinsville store, and Gary's son Sammy runs it. But there has always been the Hamilton Avenue store as well that was opened originally by a second brother way back in the day. Regardless, Hudson and Robbinsville are still out favorite stores, but I think that the pie at Hamilton Ave is a lot better than the first time we went there...but our hearts will always be on Hudson Street!
So in celebration tonight I brought a 2006 Leviathan, and what a pure pleasure it was to drink this wine tonight! For those of you who do not know, Leviathan is a project by Annie Favia (past work with Harlan Estate, Spottswoode, Araujo, Colgin, Staglin, Bressler, Favia and Pahlmeyer. She is currently the principal of Libelula Viticultural Services, her own company, which provides project management for Abreu and Screaming Eagle) and Andy Erickson (consulting winemaker, making wine for Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Arietta, Dancing Hares Vineyard, Ovid Vineyards, and consulting for Jonata in the Santa Ynez Valley). Their reputations say it all!
Upon opening the bottle, the first thing you will notice is the gorgeous color in the glass! But when you put your nose anywhere near the glass, the aroma's are intoxicating! What a gorgeous nose this wine has! Huge oodles of dark black cherry, jammy raspberry, and blueberry, a subtle hint of caramel, and spice. From the nose alone, I could not tell what grape was a majority here, but I was assuming it was cabernet. We could tell that there was some syrah, merlot and probably some cabnernet franc, but I was also guessing maybe a bit of petite verdot. Regardless, upon looking at their website, the final blend was 41% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot, 21% syrah, and 7% cabernet franc = "100% California." We were close...and never said to be professionals. .
So on to the palate, this wine was as smooth and creamy as could be. Big black fruits filled the mouth with some blueberry, boysenberry, black cherry, and raspberry. Subtle hints of spice and vanilla rounded out the finish, which was very nice, although not all that long. I was expecting to have more wood on the palate but this is definitely not the case. For such a young wine, everything was very well integrated, and it was amazing how well this wine came together. This was popped and poured, and between the 4 of us, we polished this bottle off in an hour, so it really did not have a lot of time to open, but the beauty of it is that it didn't need it. Annie and Andy did their homework in developing this wine, and it seems to be ready to drink right out of the gate.
All in all, this is a very solid wine, and I look forward to seeing how this wine develops in the future. Unfortunately with my cutbacks in wine purchasing this year, I did not bite off of the mailing list for this wine, although I was allocated 12 bottles. I did purchase 2 locally at CoolVines, and I am glad that I did. I will definitely pick up at least another in the future, and for the money, I think that this is a great California blend, made from some of the best California fruits! A pleasure, and worthy of 93 points! Cheers!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lahiere's Restaurant - Princeton, NJ

Well, with it being President's Day, and both of us having the day off, we figured we'd take a ride down the road to Princeton to walk around town, enjoy the sunshine, and run a few errands. So after a quick stop at at the Princeton Running Company to get Zelda some new shoes for her upcoming 5K, we walked around the corner, and saw Lahiere's. After walking past Lahiere's Restaurant a million times in the last few years since moving to New Jersey, today would be a great day to give it a whirl for lunch.
I have never been to Laheire's, but Zelda has had client dinners there in the past, and said that they food and service were impeccable. I have also been very intrigued by the "Einstein Table," that nobody is allowed to sit at, yet is always set, and where Albert Einstein used to sit when he used to frequent Laheire's way back when. Needless to say, the table is still there, and it is indeed still set, with a picture of Mr. Einstein himself overlooking his famed table.
So as we walk in, we are greeted in a very odd, sort of cold entry area. Behind where the host stand sits is a gated area with a white curtain, and upon a closer look, reveals some tables back there, almost as a little private dining room. This would make a great walk in wine cellar, but I am sure that they nee as many tables in the restaurant as possible. Down to the left was another small dining room, where we saw two gentleman dining. We were then brought up a couple levels to the main dining room, and sat on the back wall, with a nice view of Witherspoon Street. There were 6 tables or so with diners, and quite a few open tables. The tables themselves were lined with nice white cloths, and good looking polished silver. Needless to say, the dining room looked very nice.
It was a few minutes before our server came over, and this gave me time to look at their wine list. Being during the day, and having errands to run, we both opted for a few Coke's, but there wine list was rather impressive. Being located in Princeton, I would expect nothing less. A few notable bottles included 1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, as well as wines from Chateau Petrus, Penfolds Grange, and Opus One.
So our when our server finally came back to take our order, Zelda opted to try try the Crisp Panko-Crusted Chicken Breast on Grilled Ciabatta, with Marinated Artichokes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Pesto Aioli. This was served on a nice piece of Ciabatta bread, with seasoned chips on the side. I am not sure if these were sweet potato or what they were, but they were tasty and lightly seasoned. I did not try her sandwich, but I will paste her notes soon.
I opted to try the Lahiere’s Cheddar Burger with Lettuce and Tomato, Served with Steak Fries. I know what you are thinking, but I am very much a "burger connoisseur." After all, it was lunch, but they did have some other good looking entrees on the menu. The burger itself came and as I cut it, the first things that I noticed was that it was served nowhere close to medium as I ordered it. Sure, I could have sent it back, but if they can't get it right the first time, what makes me think that they will get it right the second time. Regardless, the burger still have good flavor, and was no where near dried out. It was seasoned nicely, and the cheddar cheese was a nice tough. The fries themselves were far from steak fries as they were small, and very soggy. Regardless, they still had nice flavor, but I would not list them as steak fries on the menu, and I would serve them much crispier than the way I received them.
Overall, the food was OK, the ambiance was very nice, and the service was slow, and mediocre at best. For a slow Monday, with just a few tables, I would expect better service. I'm not sure that I would go back for lunch, but after hearing all the great things about their dinners, I might be willing to give it a try.
Lahiere's Restaurant
5-II Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cork - Westmont, NJ VALENTINE'S DAY 14 FEB 2009

First and foremost, Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! As I said below, I was lucky enough to snag us some reservations via OpenTable, and we have really been looking to dining at Cork. Upon driving up, the parking lot was full, with the exception of one parking spot that we grabbed. Upon walking up to the restaurant, you could see some nice, dim lighting, a 3 piece band, and a very nice ambiance. As we walked up to the host stand, we were quickly greeted, and seated at a two top to the right. The first thing I notice after sitting down is their cellar wall, comprised of a built in cabinet with shelving, wire caged wooden doors, and a whole array of wine bottles. Although if it were my restaurant, I would have built one that is climate controlled, this is still a nice focus on the eyes. Our server, Marissa came over to introduce herself, and to give us a few minutes to get settled in. First things first, I look at the wine list. Unfortunately, being a 45 minute drive, we opted not to indulge in a bottle, but if we would have, I probably would have ordered the Two Hands "Angel's Share" as that looked the list best bargain on the wine list, and one of the wines that we enjoy most. We instead opted for a glass each of the 2005 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 35 Yountville, which turned out to be a decent 86 point wine. Cork did have a "His" or "Hers" tasting menu tonight, which encompassed 5 courses for a mere $55. Either person could order either menu, and the gender specific thing really did not apply. This was a great deal in my opinion, but unfortunately for Zelda, there were courses with meat, and she is not a beef or pork eater, and unfortunately for me, I was really craving a steak, and both main courses were comprised of a fish dish. I would however like to try their tasting menu in the future, and we are going to try to make it there for South Jersey Restaurant Week March 22nd - 27th! So on to appetizers, I opted to try the crab cake as many of you know I have a crab cake obsession. This was served with Wilted Swiss Chard, Haystack Potatoes, and Old Bay aioli. I really liked the simplicity of the crab cake, as it was made with a lot of extra filler, and you could tell this by how crumbly and delicate it was. It was however a bit on the under seasoned side, and this could be taken care of with the smallest dash of salt and pepper. The hastck potato was almost like a bed of warm potato salad, and although it made for a nice presentation, the flavors were nothing to write home about. Finally, the dish was topped off with a swiss chard. Zelda opted for the Vegetable spring rolls with a chili citrus shop. I have yet to eat a spring roll that I didn't like, and this was no different. Fried to a nice golden brown, filled with fresh vegetables, this was a true pleasure. For Zelda, she said that there was a little more onion than she likes, but for me, these were ideal! Great job! We decided to skip the soup or salad so we could save room for dessert, and Zelda opted for the pasta cavatelli with chicken. This dish contained zucchini, eggplant, red pepper, tomato coulis, and chicken. This was a good looking dish with great flavors, and I will let her comment more on that when she gets some time. From the taste that I had, it was very good, well seasoned, and cooked absolutely perfectly. I opted for the 12 ounce grilled ribeye with roasted fingerling potatoes, haricovert(green beans), with a green peppercorn demi glaze. this steak was absolutely perfect, and as much as I tried, I could not find anything negative about this dish, with the exception that the haricovert could have been a little warmer. I ordered the ribeye medium, and it was cooked perfectly throughout the whole steak, and did not continue to cook on my plate. The steak was very juicy, and perfectly seasoned with a nice char on the outside. There was next to no fat on this steak, and I think that you really got your bang for your buck here. The demi glaze was not ever powering, and did not take away from the meat. What a pleasure this was, and at $22, an absolute bargain. By this point, I was very full, but being Valentine's Day, we couldn't go home without having dessert. I opted for the apple tart, which had nice flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. The apples were very nice, and the only complain I have was that the tart crust was a little on the soggy side, but being Valentine's Day, I am sure they had to make several dozens of them in advance, so I will not hold that against them. Z opted for the pot de creme, which is traditionally served cold, as was this one. It was however very cold, to the point where the spoon could not even go into it, and almost frozen. Again, making these in advance and putting them in the cooler in advance was a must on Valentine's Day, and maybe it just sat in there in an environment that was too cold. Regardless, it had very nice, very rich flavors, and once it warmed up a bit, it was tasty. When all was said and done, we had a great meal in a beautiful environment, and the service from Marissa was impeccable. The 3 piece jazz trio was a pleasure to listen to, and it made for a great evening. We definitely look forward to re-visiting Cork in the future! Cheers! 90 Haddon Avenue Westmont, NJ 08108 Phone: (856)833-9800

2005 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 35 Yountville

Enjoyed this tonight, Valentine's Day, but he glass at Cork restaurant in Westmont, NJ. Considering we are in NJ, at $8.50 a glass this was not bad at all compared to some of the ridiculous prices you pay for other wines off the lists around here.

No idea how long this wine had been open, but it had a nice cherry nose, with hints of tar, tobacco, other red fruits, and hints of oak. On the palate, this wine was creamy and delicious for a wine by the glass off of a restaurant menu. Hints of berry, vanilla, and caramel, and dark currants. The finish on this wine was very smooth, and there was little to no tannin. that being said, this was a nice wine worthy of 86 points. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Day - Where are you dining?

We have received several e-mail from people looking for last minute Valentine's Day ideas as to restaurants they should try. As I have told many, check out Open Table to see what restaurants in your area might be available. Unfortunately, it is getting down to the wire, and many restaurants are currently booked. That said, remember to book early next time! As for us, we'll be dining at: 90 Haddon Avenue Westmont, NJ 08108 Phone: (856)833-9800

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Spring Fever - 2007 Pali Sunset and a 2006 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch

What a day it was today, and you could see everywhere that people were taking advantage of the nice weather after months of cabin fever. Being the first nice day in quite a while in NJ, the crowds were out, and Spring was in the air as the temps neared 60 degrees today. That said, we watched the movie "Bottleshock" for the first time, and then retired out to "The Bistro" for some vino with Todd & Michelle. With Spring Fever, we opted for one of our favorite Spring/Summer wines....a nice Rosé! I went down to the cellar and grabbed a 2007 Pali Wine Co. Sunset. This is a nice Rosé of pinot noir, made from 60% Oregon, and 40% California grapes. I had this downstairs in what I consider migh white wine fridge, and I did notice some crystalization in the bottom of the bottle. It was weird how the crystalization was actually a bright red color, however this had no effect on the taste of the wine.
The nose gave off some hints of peach, pear, and citrus, and this looked absolutely gorgeous in the glass, with a nice peach color. It doesn’t have the almost neon color that we are seeing in some of the other Rosé out there, but it was still nice on the eyes...especially after being couped up in the cold the last few months. On the palate, this was more of the same things that we have tasted with this bottle and vintage in the past. Nice citrus, with slight hints of strawberry, with a nice finish that makes this a pleasure to drink. All in all, a great wine to give us a little taste of Spring, and worth of 85 points.
As the evening continued "On the Bistro," it was time to pop another bottle. Earlier in the day, Todd mentioned the fact that he got his first offer from Stefania Wine for their 2006 cabernet, so I figured it would be nice to give he and Michelle a little preview of another exciting wine to be released from Stefania this Spring, the 2007 Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch. That said, I reached into the cellar and grabbed an '06 to share, and it proved once again to be a great crowd pleaser!
Gorgeous, deep, dark color in the glass, with an amazing nose of of floral dark fruits: black cherry, blueberry, blackberries, and plum, with subtle hints of caramel, vanilla, and spice. On the palate, this wine has managed to wow us yet again. This wine is just incredible, bottle after bottle, and exactly how a like a syrah. This wine has great, creamy dark cherry, blueberry, and blackberry smother your palate, and the spice does not overwhelm you one bit, with just subtle hints of white pepper. Ths finish on this wine only gets better, and this wine has really integrated in the last 7 months since we popped our first one. Kudos yet again to Paul and Stef on making a great wine worth of 92 points! Cheers!

Moustache Restaurant - Lambertville, NJ

We've heard great things about Moustache from friends, so on a beautiful February NJ day, a drive to Lambertville was just what the doctor ordered to enjoy some nice weather outdoors. After all, how many days near 60 degrees to you have in February? Moustache is located in the location that used to house a Capa Pizza where we had pies on multiple occasions. Upon walking up, you could see that they did some work to the outside of the building, with some nice landscaping, and some paint work to the building. Moustache prides itself on Middle Eastern cuisine, and they seem to be doing it the right way! Upon entering, this place did a complete 360 from the old Capa Pizza days. The interior was totally renovated and rearranged, with the old rotating pizza oven being removed, and the entire kitchen being moved from the front left hand side, to the rear right of the building where the bands used to play. The rustic concrete floor is still there, and the new tables are adorned by copper tops, and look very nice. Lanterns hang from the ceiling, and this really helps set the tone and ambiance for some good ethnic cuisine. One of the first things that Zelda noticed was the sign behind the host stand that says "We proudly accept cash." Upon looking around, there were no Visa/MC stickers on the door, so I took a walk a few blocks to hit the ATM at the corner on Bridge Street. Upon returning, I was greeted at the table by an order of hummus that looked absolutely gorgeous. A nice ring of hummus surrounded some chopped chick peas, served with a fresh pita, whole, in a basket. Upon picking up the pita, you could tell how thin and airy it was. You could tell that these were definitely homemade, and they were at the right side of the tasty scale. Awesome!! Upon tasting the hummus, this was delicious as well, and this coming from a guy who is not a big fan of chickpeas. The hummus had a nice tahini seasoning, and some other middle eastern seasonings, a tad of lemon juice, and it made for a gorgeous app! I opted for the gyro, rotisserie broiled, sliced in nice chunks of fresh beef, and this too had a nice medley of Mediterranean spices. This was served with a nice sauce, tomato, and romaine lettuce. I could have ate 5 of these things they were so good, and by the far the best gyro I have eaten on the East Coast. This was awesome, and served in the same fresh, thin, homemade pita! YUM! Zelda went with the falafel sandwich, served in yet another fresh baked pita with lettuce and tomato. Again, not being a huge fan of falafel, I was pleasantly surprised at the gorgeous aromatic taste of this dish. More chickpeas with nice spice and vegetables made this dish incredible, and it is something that I would have no problem eating. Add a few Coke's to the tab, and we got in and out of there for around $22. For the quality of food, with the nice aromatics and spices that went into these dishes, this was an absolute bargain! I look forward to going back soon! 77 South Union Street Lambertville, NJ Phone: (609)397-7777

Saturday, February 7, 2009

2005 Château Tour de Gilet

This wine was part two in the tasting today, and yet one of the best under $20 Bordeaux I have ever tasted. Sure, we have had lots in the $10-$15 range, but none of them have the fruit that this one seemed to have. Nice earthy nose, with some red fruits. With this wine being 60% petite verdot, with the rest rounded out by cabernet sauvignon and merlot, I figured there would be more fruit on the nose, but it had also only been decanted for 2 hours. Slight hints of cigar box, leather, red fruits, spice, and pepper round out the nose. On the palate, the red fruits shined through with lots of blueberry, cherry, and cassis. This is a good example of why 2005 was such a great year or Bordeaux, and this one from Medoc is shining. The finish is very young, and again, this wine will benefit from more time in the bottle. At this price however, I think it will be hard to stay away from these, so I can see picking up some more, and keeping a few to age. 2 purchased at $17, but I see many more in our future! Leave it to CoolVines for another great wine at their tasting today! Cheers!

2007 Domaine Fichet Bourgogne "Tradition"

Tasted today at the CoolVines Princeton tasting! Finally, a nice under $20 Burgundy, and leave it to CoolVines to find it and carry it! This producer actually got his start back in 1976, and is now run by his two sons. Tons of ripe cherry on the nose, with a hint of earth. This is not your typical California, fruit forward nose. This is a classic Burgundy nose! On the palate, more ripe cherry shines through, with a bit of acidity, which I expect to settle down with some more time in the bottle. After all, this is still a young 2007. There is still a bit of a tannic backbone, but again, this will settle out in time. We picked up two, and plan on trying one after another year in the bottle. At this point, I will not rate this wine, but I can see this being a 90 point Burgundy in the future, which is nice for this price point. Cheers!

Penang Malaysian and Thai Cuisine - Princeton, NJ

Well, we've never been fans of big restaurant chains, but last night we heard a few people talking about Penang's in Princeton, so since we were out and about running errands, we figured why not. Upon entering, this place was nothing like I had pictured it. I pictured a very small, bright place, with a dirty white tiled floor, ala Chinatown in Chicago, but we were pleasantly surprised. The restaurant was rather large, with Asian décor throughout, and the place was packed! We were seated right away, with a good view of the open kitchen that seemed to be pretty busy. It took a few minutes for our server to come over, but we started with some appetizers. First out was the: Rice Net Spring Roll ( 5 PCS) 6.95 Fried spring roll with shrimp and crab meat, onions, glass noodle skin and taro crusting with plum sauce for dipping. This was a nice dish, and had me intrigued from the get go. It had a nice crunch to it, but the true flavors of the shimp and crab did not come through. Had I not known, I would have sworn this was chicken, but it was still delicious. Out next was the: Thai Spring Roll 6.95 Deep fried rolls stuffed with cabbage, bean thread, carrot and shrimp served with plum sauce. This too was fried to a nice golden brown, and came out of the kitchen smokin' hot! Regardless, it was tasty, and made with good vegetables. I would order either of the appetizers again. For lunch, we went the comfort food route and ordered the Sesame Chicken 12.95 White meat chicken sauteed with sesame seeds & brown sweet & sour sauce, as well as an the Chicken Fried Rice 7.95. The sesame chicken had a nice crust to it, and the brown sauce was delicious. It had a very nice sweetness to it, and it was cooked beautifully. The rice had great flavors as well, and you could tell it was made with lots of garlic and onion. Regardless, both dishes were delicious. The one negative thing I will say about Penang is that their service could use some improvement. The staff was slow, and they were not friendly in the least. Regardless, the food came out hot and fast, and that is what made it worth the trip. Will we try Penang again? Sure, the food was good, and fast, and reasonably affordable, but I won't go out of my way to go back there. In short, worth checking out for the food, but prepare yourself for mediocre at best service. 635 Nassau Park Blvd Princeton, NJ 08540 Phone: (609) 897-9088

Friday, February 6, 2009

2006 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Uvas Creek Vineyard

I know, and I am thinking the same thing. Popping a young '06 cabernet already? Well, seeing as Paul and Stef spoil us, and we get plenty of this wine, I could resist no longer, so we brought one to Oliver-A Bistro tonight in Bordentown.

Popped and poured at cellar temp, although it may have gotten a little colder on our walk up town, we gave this wine time to warm up in the glass as we talked to Danielle the owner, as well as our friends that work there, "Bruce-Y-Boy" and Jimmy. As I looked at this wine in the glass, it was a gorgeous deep red color that just screams cherry! After about 20 minutes of swirling in the glass, the nose revelated some notes of rose petal, and and oodles of cherry, with soft hints of oak and spice. This wine smells absolutely delicious, and seems to have opened up nicely. After a quick toast to Paul and Stef, the palate is smoothered in cherry, with hint of spice, plums, and a nice berry meddley. You can also taste a bit of wood, but this wine is integrating nicely. At first, the finish had a bit of heat, but that toned dwn over the course of the night, and we have yet another winner from Stefania. How are Paul and Stef crafting such great wines vintage after vintage? The truth is in the caring that they give the vines, and the care they give the fruit as it transitions from vine, through the entire winemaking process! This is yet another winner, and this wine is going to be hard to keep in the cellar. Thankully, we have another 16 of these, so we'll figure out a way to slowly enjoy them over the years.

This wine will make you squeeze every last drop out of the bottle! Kudos as always to Paul and Stef! This one is already worthy of 92 points, and will be on the rise. You just don't find many wines at this price that are this tasty! Keep up the great work! Cheers!


Get ready folks! This is one of just a handful that I have been waiting on this year, and this information is as reliable as it gets as it is from the source:
The release is scheduled on March 10.
The line up is:
20 07 Shea Pinot
2007 Manchester Ridge Pinot
2007 Hyde Chard
Keep an eye out! Can't wait!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

2006 Once Pinot Noir California/Oregon

Here we are on Superbowl Sunday, relaxing at home, cooking anything amd everything from homemade sauteed onion dip, to sauteed scallops, to wings with ranch dressing, carrots, and celery. As fun as it might be to go out and party at the bars, there is nothing better than Superbowl Sunday, relaxing at home!
Josie "The Pussycat Doll" came over tonight, so we popped a 2006 Once pinot noir that we picked up a few weeks ago at CoolVines. In all actuality however, since this wine has fruit from two different AVA's, they cannot put a vintage on this wine. Regardless, the fruit is from 2006. Nice California/Oregon blend, with your typical pinot color. Nose of ripe black cherry, with hints of cola, and a hint of pomegranate and spice. On the palate, nice cherry taste, not overly fruit forward, so I think that the Oregon helped from that standpoint. Some oak on the palate, but well integrated, and not overly oaked. Simple, complex finish is pleasurable, with no tannic backbone, and light acidity. All in all, a very nice wine and decent QPR. 88 points.