Sunday, February 28, 2010

Braddock's Tavern - Medford, NJ

No trip to Medford, NJ is complete without a trip to Braddock's Tavern for lunch. So after working up an appetite at the Carriage Trade Cheese Shoppe, we walked across the street to Braddock's for lunch off of their pub menu. But if you have the chance, check them out for dinner as well as this is a great dining spot! Zelda's parents joined us today, and we walked in and grabbed a nice 4 top in the pub. First thing I noticed was that the pub had been remodeled a bit, with a wall taken down, and it just looks like there is more room. The bar itself looks a bit different as well, and looks a lot brighter than I remember it being. The new owners definitely did some work on the place when they took over, and it looks as though they did a nice job! The bartender came over and greeted us with water and menu's, and cocktails were in order, ranging from glasses of cabernet sauvignon, to a glass of prosecco. Having a big dinner planned, we opted for the pub menu, as not to fill up. Unfortunately, I filled up anyway, but what can you do. Looks like we're in for a dinner later than usual tonight, but is that such a bad thing? Our server came over, and it seemed like we were all on the same page today with burgers. I opted for the Braddock's Tavern Burger with cheddar cheese, bacon, and sauteed onions, while Zelda opted for the turkey burger. Other burgers at the table included the Tavern Burger, as well as the veggie burger. My burger came out, and was cooked to order medium. It was served on a nice bun, with a heaping mound of bacon and onions. There was also lettuce, tomato, and raw onion, which was definitely overkill and removed. I also ordered the french fries on the side, which were cooked to a crispy golden brown, yet soft and delicious in the middle. These were also sprinkled with a sea salt that was a really nice touch. Zelda's turkey burger came out nice and juicy, nicely cooked, and it just looked darn tasty. Zelda's Dad's burger was also cooked nicely, and her Mom opted for the veggie burger, composed of a grilled portabella mushroom, roasted red peppers, spinach, and provolone cheese. I am all about the meat, and not a big mushroom fan, but this sure looked tasty! In short, everyone enjoyed their burgers were good, and while it was no Rossi burger, it sure was tasty on a different scale. From the bun, to the fries, it was done nicely. There was also a nice crowd in Braddock's today, ranging from other tables in the pub, to a few customers at the bar, including one of my fellow co-workers who happened to be there. So if you get a chance, check out downtown Medford, take a walk, do some shopping, and check out some of their nice restaurants. I think you'll enjoy your trip! Cheers! -F. Scott 39 South Main Street Medford NJ, 08055 Phone: 609.654.1604 Fax: 609.654.8180

Carriage Trade Cheese Shoppe - Medford, NJ

After hearing about Carriage Trade Cheese Shoppe in Medford, NJ from Zelda's Mom, and posting on Chowhound looking for information on this new cheese shop, today, we finally made it to Medford to check it out, and we were not disappointed to say the least!
Upon pulling up, the first thing you notice is that the building is gorgeous, looking a though it recently went through a total renovation from top to bottom, inside and out. It is just a nice looking place, with a corner door, located on an angle, and a great, old fashion looking sign that suits the historic Medford downtown just perfectly.
As we walked in, the first thing that you notice is the giant chalkboard wall behind the cheese counter and register that lists at least 50 different kinds of cheeses, from different parts of the world! WOW! These cheeses range anywhere from Fresh & Bloomy, to Washed Rind, to Semi-Soft, to Firm, Hard, and Blue. The selection is by far one of the best I have seen locally, and the service behind the counter could not be any friendlier.
What I really liked was the fact that the girl working the behind the counter really encouraged us to try the different cheeses. Today, we sampled anything from a manchego with a rosemary rind, to a gruyere, to a Red Dragon cheddar with a mustard seed, and all were absolutely delicious. In total, we ended up leaving with 5 different cheeses, and a plethora of other great items.
Another interesting feature that Zelda noticed on their board was the sign mentioning "cheese orphans." This consisted of a box of different size cheese in small qualities, that were the last of these particular cheeses. There was nothing wrong with these in the least, and we scored a nice farmhouse cheddar and beemster XO gouda from this box. There were probably at least a dozen different cheeses in this box, and it was just fun to look through.
Other than cheese, they also carry a lot of other items, ranging from cheese knives and cheese plates, to other gourmet foods and gourmet items, to include crackers, wine sausages, honey, gourmet chocolates, and sweet and savory confits.
They also offer an amazing amount of cheese classes, tailored to your needs, and they are also BYOB for the different cheese classes that they host at their facility. They are set up with some nice high top counters in the store, along with a small kitchen setup to host these different classes. I can say that I really look forward to attending some cheese classes there, or to set up some cheese courses with our local group of wine friends!
All in all, a great cheese shop, with a nice selection, and a staff that could not have been any friendlier or more helpful! $60 later, we were ready for lunch in Medford, and ready to roll. We walked out with 5 different cheese, a brie baker, and 2 Coca Cola's in the old school glass bottles (Made in Mexico and Fructose Free). Interested in attending a cheese class with us there? E-mail us at Cheese, I mean, CHEERS! -F. Scott
Carriage Trade Cheese Shoppe
32A South Main Street
Medford, NJ 08055
Phone: (609)654-0400

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Toscano Ristorante - Bordentown, NJ

What better reason to head to Bordentown tonight than to enjoy some of the great restaurants in that great little town. You've heard me say it before, and I will say it again, Bordentown City, NJ is a great little place, and it certainly has a special place in my heart. If you've never stopped in the historic downtown off of Farnsworth Avenue, I highly recommend you take a drive over, and stop in one of the restaurants for a nice lunch, and browse some of the neat little shops. You just never know what kind of treasures you might find.

We arrived in Bordentown City around 7PM tonight, and figured we'd try to grab a seat at the bar at Toscano. If you want to dine in the dining room at Toscano on the weekend, I highly recommend that you call early in the week to make a reservation. Toscano has a good following, and it is really hard to get a reservation on a Friday or Saturday night.

We however love sitting at the bar, and tonight was no different. When we arrived, there wasn't an open table in the restaurant, and not an open seat at the bar. That said, we bellied up to the one open round bar table in a corner, and I headed to the bar for a couple glasses of wine.

Tonight's wine of choice was a Centine, but I forget what producer it is from. Two glasses came out, as well as two single serving carafe's. This is an affordable Super Tuscan blend, that I am assuming is sangiovese based, with some cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and who knows what else. At $7.50 a glass, this is decent by restaurant standards, and we enjoy it. If I had to guess, we can probably pick this up for about $15 a bottle, and it would make a decent house wine.

As we finished out first half glass, two ladies from the bar were seated at our table, and tonight was our lucky night. We grabbed up two stools at the bar, asked for some menu's, and got ready to order some dinner.

The portions at Toscano are always pretty large, so we typically order a soup or salad course, and appetizer, and split one of the huge entrees. Tonight, the seafood bisque was very tempting, but we instead opted to order a Caesar salad, that was plenty large for the both of us. The salad came out with a nice creamy dressing, and good crispy romaine, with nice slices of roasted red pepper, crouton, and parm. A few twists of fresh ground pepper, and this salad was a treat.
Next out was one of my favorite appetizers, the Pane Toscano, which is a thick crusted loaf of bread stuffed with mozzarella cheese and caramelized vidalia onion, and topped with more vidalia onion, roasted garlic cloves, and Romano cheese. This is then baked to a golden brown, and absolute heaven by my standards. This is a dish that I enjoy visit after visit, and I really need to figure out how to make this one at home.

The bread was nice and crusty, the onions and garlic added great flavors and elements, and the stuffed mozzarella was heavenly! This is such a treat, and I have never been disappointed by this dish. This could easily fill me up for lunch, and it is just a joy to eat, but don't forget the breath mints!

As our entree tonight, we settled on the chicken Parmesan, which I don't think we have ever had at Toscano now that I sit here thinking about it. As with their other dishes, the portion came our HUGE with two large chicken breasts, pounded thin, but not too thin. Zelda and I each grabbed on, and noticed the nice golden brown crust, with tender, juicy chicken on the inside.

The top was smothered in a nice melted mozzarella, and the sauce had a really nice spice to it. Accompanying the entree was a nice side of penne pasta, with the same sauce. There is definitely something about the sauce that we like. It is not your typical marinara, but a marinara on steroids, with a bit of spiciness that really gives it a nice edge. This was perfect, and we loved it. Needless to say, we both could not finish our portions of the chicken, verifying the reason we love to sit at the bar, split a soup or salad and appetizer, then splitting an entree. It is just too much food for the both of us, but I am definitely not complaining.

All in all, a great night for comfort foods in "The Little City with A Lot of Charm," with great food, great service, and a decent house vino. Keep up the good work at Toscano! We love stopping in from time to time! Cheers! -F. Scott

Toscano Ristorante

136 Farnsworth Avenue
Bordentown, NJ 08505
Phone: (609)291-0291

PS: I am sorry to say that I forgot to bring the Blackberry tonight, so there are no pictures. Stay tuned for a picture of the Pane Toscano in the future!

The NEW CellarTracker - Grape Stories Launches Today

Anyone who knows about my passion for wine, knows how big of a fan of CellarTracker I am, and how important of a resource CellarTracker has been for inventorying our wines, and tracking what we have in inventory, what we've drank, tasting notes, what we've spent, etc. This is a resource that has had tens of thousands of hours put into it by founder Eric Levine, and it is a must have resource for this great hobby. That being said, it is with my gratitude that I would like to announce the launch of Eric's new site, Grape Stories, and Noon Eastern time today! Note, that in my opinion, there was never anything wrong with CellarTracker, however, Grape Stories is a totally revamped site, with a new platform, the same great features, and many new additional features. Grape Stories is far from complete, and I am sure that Eric is going to add to it on a regular basis, spending tens of thousands of hours writing new code, and adding new, additional features. So far, I absolutely love the new platform, and it looks great! It is definitely user friendly, and has a gorgeous new look, that I think many will appreciate. Unfortunately, I have not had a lot of time yet to play around with the new site, but I do like what I have seen thus far. With that being said, stay tuned for more great notes on Grape Stories, and I truly look forward to seeing how this site develops, and to see the progress in the next many years. Big kudos to Eric Levine, and congratulations! You should be very proud of your accomplishments, and know that many of us in this awesome hobby appreciate your hard work and dedication! Stay tuned! Cheers! -F. Scott

Friday, February 26, 2010

2007 Maybach Family Vineyards - RELEASE ALERT

Today was the day that many, including myself have been waiting for, release day for the 2007 Maybach Family Vineyards Materium Cabernet Sauvignon! There are not that many of what I consider high end cabernet's that we purchase from California anymore, but Maybach is one that just cannot be passed up, especially based on the quality of the 2007 vintage! Information below from: 2007 MAYBACH MATERIUM Weitz Vineyard, Oakville 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 460 cases produced FOURTH RELEASE of Maybach Materium, from a single block of the Weitz Vineyard, which sits at 1000 feet elevation on the eastern hillside of Oakville, a bonded growing area unique in all the world. The vines here struggle to grow among boulders and stones and in shallow soil, giving deep concentration to the fruit. “The sheer size of the 2007 Materium makesit the best Maybach yet. Still, the trademark balance of the Weitz Vineyard is evident, and once again the wine is light on its feet.”— Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown Also released today: 2008 MAYBACH ETERIUM Sonoma Coast Chardonnay - B. Thieriot Vineyard 48 cases produced FROM A HILLSIDE vineyard a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, near Occidental. Burgundian in style, mineral, and floral qualities are met with an undeniably Californian personality rich with notes of stone fruit, pine needles, nuts and citrus. . What is there to say about the wines of Thomas Rivers Brown other than awesome? We're huge fans of his wines, and if there is one big cabernet that I have been holding my breath for, it was this one. Release price on these was $125 this year, with a minimal price increase of $15 per bottle from last years release. Considering how much other wineries are raising their prices, this really is not that bad. . The Eterium chardonnay was released at $78 per bottle, and unfortunately, I had to pass on these for now, but that doesn't mean that I won't go back and get some when the funds become available, if there are still wines available. Time will tell! . But for now, I am happy that I was able to log on and secure my cabernet sauvignon allocation. This is going to be a great vintage, and an amazing wine! I look forward to posting tasting notes on this wine sometime around 2020 ;-) Cheers! -F. Scott

Congratulations South Jersey Wine and Dine!

It is with great honor I would like to congratulate our friends at South Jersey Wine & Dine on their 100 post on their BLOG! I discovered South Jersey wine and dine a few months ago now, and I always look forward to checking in and seeing what restaurants they have frequented, and what wines they have been drinking. Being on what I like to call the Mason Dixon line between Central and South New Jersey, some of the restaurants that South Jersey Wine and Dine visit look familiar, while others do not. Regardless, their write ups are well written, with good pictures, and great information. They also have some great wine content on their site, ranging from wineries, to specific wines, to good information on grape varietals in general. In short, I highly recommend you stop by their site at: and give it a read! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, and I think that you'll add another blog to your daily must read list! Keep up the great work South Jersey Wine and Dine! Cheers! -F. Scott

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New York Times Interview

UPDATE: Just a quick update hear from the original posting on 25 JANUARY 2010: This interview took place, a week or so after this initial post, and she asked us some interesting questions about why we blog, our restaurant experiences, etc. I think that everything went very well, and was very interesting to say the least. Today, I received a phone call letting us know that the article will be published on the March 7th, 2010 issue! Yeah! We are definitely looking forward to this, and hopefully everything said sounds great! Yikes! We're definitely looking forward to this, so thanks a million for all of the e-mails, and for following along with this story! Cheers! ORIGINAL POST: I am very flattered to say, that today I received an e-mail from the New York Times, and it looks as though tomorrow I am going to do an interview with one of the Times writers who is doing an article on their dining page about food bloggers in New Jersey. She would like to talk to me about reviewing restaurants in New Jersey, and I truly think that we will add some great information to this article.
Let me just say that I am absolutely honored that they are considering us, and we look forward to participating in this article.
Stay tuned as this unique privilege unfolds! Thanks for tuning in, and as always, cheers!

Screaming Eagle - RELEASE ALERT - 2007 Vintage

Well, afterall, it is mailer season, and everyone saw this coming. If there is a heavy hitter out there in cabernet sauvignon, and a highly coveted wine, it is Screaming Eagle. Release price stayed the same this year, at the bargain price of $750 per bottle, available in 3 packs in the original wood case. Yes, I said $750 per bottle. The mystique behind Screaming Eagle has been in place for a long time, and these are some highly coveted collectors items. Screaming Eagle definitely has a following, and yes, it is a good wine. Is it $750 good? Well, only your wallet and your palate can be the judge of that one. Will I be ordering? Probably not, but it sure would be nice to have some in the cellar. In the meantime, I'll continue to wish that I had won the lottery, and continue to get the opportunity to drink this wine with generous friends. Now the real question, is this going to attain a 100 point score this year? I wouldn't be surprised! Cheers! -F. Scott

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rossi's Bar & Grill - Trenton, NJ

Yeah, I know, what else is there to say? Another early night, and another great burger at Rossi's in Trenton. Went for the burger with Swiss cheese, bacon, and grilled onion, cooked medium, and once again it was perfect. Great burger, incredible homemade chips, and another great meal at Rossi's! I just cannot stay away from this place, and it's such a good burger! Make the trip! It's a Trenton staple, and well worth the ride! And the dining room was absolutely packed tonight, yet it still took less than 10 minutes to get my chow on! How can you not love this place! Great pre-surgery food! Cheers! -F. Scott PS: for our new readers, make sure you scroll down to see some of my other reviews from Rossi's in the last few weeks!

SmartMoney Magazine Interview - Wine Clubs

On Monday, I received an e-mail from a journalist at SmartMoney Magazine, who is currently working on a piece for their magazine about wine clubs. I talked to the reporter, Jami, and he asked me a number of questions asking about my experiences with wine clubs, and I gave him my honest opinion. Sure, there are many wine clubs out there, and I don’t have a problem with wine clubs. But that doesn’t mean that I would join them. We do however have several friends who belong to wine clubs, and so long as you enjoy their shipments, that is all that matters. Currently, we only belong to one wine club, Tobin James. Tobin James makes fun, fruit forward wines, ranging from sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, to cabernet sauvignon, syrah, cabernet franc, petite sirah, Lagrein, Malbec, tempranillo, and course their famous zinfandel’s. They also make some tasty dessert wines, which is what originally turned us on to Tobin James. They ship twice a year, in the spring and fall, and each shipment contains 8 bottles, usually consisting of one white wine, 6 red wines, and one dessert wine. For $155 shipped, this is a great deal, and to re-order this exact same order, usually costs a bit above $300. They also give you a fun gift of something with their logo on it, and the last gift from the fall shipment was a blanket. So back to the story, per Jami, this story should go to print in either the June or July issue of SmartMoney, and I am expecting a follow up phone call or e-mail from him in the future. He didn’t really ask me too many probing questions, however, I gave him my honest opinion, and shared the fact that we only belong to the one wine club. As for as I am concerned, and from what I have seen, wine clubs from stores can be very boring. Wine clubs from wineries however are a different story. For you non-wine geeks out there, don’t confuse a mailing list with a wine club! Mailing lists from wineries offer their customers allocations to purchase particular wines, where wine clubs charge you a fee and send you the wines that they feel like sending you. There is a big difference! I’ve seen wine clubs charging anywhere from $40 a month for 2 bottles, to well over $200 a month for a few bottles. I don’t like the simple fact that you have no control over what wines you are receiving. This however could be a lot of fun, and there is nothing better than receiving a box of wine in the mail. I on the other hand, would rather walk into one of my local stores, first to give them the business, and second to have some control over what wines I am getting. At least this way, I am not getting sent wines that they possibly couldn’t sell, but also note that this is not always the case with wine clubs. There are some good wine clubs out there, but I just find they are not for me. So in short, check back to see how this story develops, and I hope to have some more information soon. We’ve been getting some good press from the blog, and hopefully 2010 will bring some other exciting opportunities! Stay tuned, and as always, cheers! -F. Scott

Monday, February 22, 2010

The "Ideal" Wine Storage Temperature?

The question of “proper” wine storage has been a discussion in the wine industry and elsewhere for many moons, and everyone has their different opinions on the temperature at which they think wine is best stored for aging. A majority of the articles you’ll read from different critics and resources will say that 55 degrees is the ideal temperature for storing wines over the long term. What people seem to think is most important however is the simple fact that the temperature has to be kept steady, with next to no fluctuation. I don’t necessarily disagree with this in the least, and do find that steady temperatures will benefit a good wine. But what is a good wine anyway? “Daily drinkers” however, as we like to call them may not be as critical, as they are going to be opened over the short term, and maybe are not as temperature dependant since they will be opened in the short term. When I say short term, I am thinking in the next 12-24 months. If it were up to me, I would keep all of our wines stored at a steady 55 degrees, however, we don’t have a single cellar large enough to accommodate all of our wines. . That being said, we do have many different climate controlled cellars, as well as a mini fridge that I store our white “daily drinkers” in. We even keep a few bottles in the regular refrigerator for easy access. Thus far, I have never had an issue with any of the bottles we have stored in any of our climate controlled cellars, or even on the other racks that we have scattered around the house. But that is not to say that the wines might not have been better if stored under ideal conditions. The reason for this post is because I am going to do a study on wine storage over the course of 18 months. The variables for this study will be as follows: 4 bottles will participate in this experiment. All 4 bottles will be the same wine, from the same vintage, from the same producer. I have not picked the wine yet, however, it will be a wine that we are familiar with. The storage locations will be the following: Bottle “A”: This will be stored in the cellar at a constant 55 degrees. Bottle “B”: This will be stored on a rack in the dark nook in our kitchen. Bottle “C”: This will be stored on a rack in the mud room where there is a window that is both opened and closed throughout the year. Bottle “D”: This will be stored in the cabinet above the exhaust hood above our stove. One of the most important variables obviously will be the wine that I choose. I want to do this with a wine that we are very familiar with, and I have yet to make a decision on what this wine will be. I would like to choose something like a cabernet sauvignon, although, I am sure this would work with any varietal. Pinot noir is my second option. The hardest part for me in choosing a wine will be the simple fact that I want to make sure it is a wine that we have had multiple times, yet also something that I will be able to hold off from opening. That being said, we have to find a wine that we can keep out hands off of. The next important variable will be the amount of time we let the wines rest. For this reason, I have chosen 18 months, and there really is no rhyme or reason as to why I have picked this time frame. I do however think that 18 months will be long enough to make a difference in the aging process, as I do not feel as little as 12 months will have as large of an effect. Will an extra 6 months really make a difference? I don’t think so as far as bottles A, B, and C go, but I do think that an additional 6 months could really hurt bottle D, but only time will tell. Next, temperature is going to be a factor. Obviously, the bottle in the cellar “should” show the best, and age the slowest, however, maybe the advanced aging process will make one of the other bottles benefit more, and show better. After all, we’re not talking first growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy here. This will be a tough variable to measure, and this will be affected by the bottle of wine that I choose for this experiment. Obviously, the bottle over the stove “should” age the fastest, as there are times when using the stove that this area is going to get hot. There is also the chance that this bottle could end up “cooked,” and be no good at all. That is a chance that I am willing to take for this experiment. There is the possibility that the two other bottles could prove to be the best bottles, as the advanced aging may be of benefit to them. Again, only time will tell. With that being said, I am now on the hunt to pick a wine that I think will prove to work out nicely for this experiment. My early thoughts are to use a cabernet sauvignon from Stefania, however, I hate the thought of using their wines for this experiment, knowing that one of the bottles just might get cooked. Their wines are so tasty and irreplaceable, that I would hate to do that. These are however wines that we are very familiar with. My second thought is to use a cabernet sauvignon like a Louis M. Martini Reserve Alexander Valley, but this is a wine that I have only had a few times, but I do like it’s price point. A wine like a 2006 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is another good option, however, I am not seeing much of this at retail anymore. Yet another option is something like a 2005 Chateau Malmaison Baronne Nadine de Rothschild is another option, and I know where I can find these locally for under $30 a bottle. One final thought is the Joseph Phelps Innisfree cabernet sauvignon, as it is easily available, but to me, it is not quite of the same caliber as the other wines mentioned. I’d really like to use a quality wine for this experiment, so feel free to send me your suggestions. Regardless, you won’t see me using a cabernet from Scarecrow, Maybach, Rivers-Marie, or Herb Lamb! It is also going to be tough as no matter what wine I chose, it is going to be very early in its drinking window, and still be very young! I will keep a running database on a weekly basis where I will use a laser temperature gauge to measure the temperature of the bottles throughout the year and a half. I think that this will be good data to record, and who knows, it may prove to be reliable data worthy of something in the future. Or maybe it will just be useless information that I will never put to use. Either way, better safe than sorry, and what is an extra 30 seconds to record some data that just might help prove a theory. There will definitely be more to come on this experiment, so feel free to leave your comments here as I am curious to hear what your thoughts are. In the meantime, stay tuned to see which wines I select for the experiment, and for a date for the experiment to start. This just might be a worthwhile experience.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What is your "go to" wine glass

You've all heard me talk about wine glasses a million times, but I have never really asked the question as to what your "go to" wine glass is. For us, it really depends on what wine we are drinking. We do drink a ton of pinot noir, and most of the time when drinking pinot we'll use the Riedel Vinum Burgundy glass, or the Riedel Oregon pinot noir glass, also called the XL. If it's a tasting we are going to with the other oenophiles and we're dinking pinot noir or Burgundy, our go to glass is the Riedel Sommeliers Bourgogne (Burgundy) Grand Cru Glass, which is an absolutely gorgeous glass! When going out with friends however, these Burgundy glasses listed above are a bit hard to transport with their larger bowls, and it really is hard to fit 4 in the Riedel carrying case. So for Valentine's Day this year, Zelda picked up 6 of the Riedel Grape Syrah glasses for me from William-Sonoma, and these are the perfect glasses to transport to a tasting or a BYO. Like other Riedel glasses, these have the very nice thin rim that you just want to bite, as well as a nice bowl. I find that this bowl works well for both white wines, as well as red wines. The bowl is sleek shaped, and comes to a point at the bottom, which adds a very nice element when there is wine in the glass. In my opinion, this is a great all around glass for anything from syrah, to cabernet and Bordeaux, to Burgundy and pinot noir, to chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. It's just a good all around glass, and it won't break the bank at $35 a piece. So that being said, what is your go to glass? Cheers! -F. Scott

The Cool Cricket - Fieldsboro, NJ

It's not often that I put a bar review on the BLOG, and this might even be a first, but I think that The Cool Cricket deserves a spot based on the single fact that it's a great family owns the place, and it's a fun place to hang out. Technically speaking, it's really not just a bar, as they have a full menu, and a heck of a great pizza!
Prior to The Cool Cricket coming to 4th Street in Fieldsboro, NJ this location was home to a couple different establishments. The current owners of the Cool Cricket bought the place just over a year ago now, and have turned it into a great local spot, with good live music, and some of the best karaoke around on Friday nights, hosted by Championship Sound Productions, and usually hosted by Robert Cooper.
We stopped in for a few cocktails after dinner on Friday night, and being of Filipino decent, you know how we like to sing, so I busted out a selection of tunes from The Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, Fuel, Matchbox 20, and Bon Jovi. Yes, Bon Jovi! LOL! But hey, the Bon Jovi was for Captain Phil Harris of The Cornelia Marie. R.I.P. Captain Phil! I will raise a crab leg to you every time I eat crabs legs from now on. One of the great things about The Cool Cricket is the acoustics. Whether your there for karaoke, or to see a live band on a Saturday night, the place sounds awesome, and the acoustics are second to none! Enough about me, let's talk about this entertainment mecca! .
First and foremost, this is a great family owned and operated establishment. Bob is the owner and father, and his daughter Kristen and her husband Steve are also owners. They do a great job keeping the drinks coming, the beers cold, and making sure that their customers are happy! They truly are a nice family, and it's nice to find a good family run establishment in the area. They also employ a nice staff to help out behind the bar, and in the kitchen, and from a service standpoint, it's second to none. Brenna and Bill do a great job in the kitchen!
We we stopped in The Cool Cricket for the first time about a year ago, and the first thing that we noticed was that the interior had been remodeled from when we visited years ago when it was under a different name and ownership. The dark, dirtiness of the old bar is gone, and they have added vibrant colors, cleaned up the bar, and added some great flat screen TVs, that might just be the best picture quality TVs of any bar in the area. Or maybe it is just the dim lighting inside that makes the picture look so darn good! Regardless, the TVs were perfect a few weeks ago for The Super Bowl, and the free buffet they featured was a treat, as well as the many raffles and giveaways!
As for the bar, they have all the good high end alcohol you are looking for at some of the best prices of the bars in the area. We've visited many different establishments in this area, and their prices on drinks are better than competitive! Unlike some of our local bars in this area, you won't be paying Manhattan prices for your martini's here, and that is a good thing. As for the beers, The Cool Cricket Offers 10 different beers on tap, ranging from Blue Moon to Guiness to Yuengling, with your Buds, Coors, Sam Adams, and Molsen in between. They also have dozen of bottled beers, as well as the Mike's Hard drinks, Twisted Tea, etc. Great drinks, at great prices! What more could you ask for?
As for the menu, I can't say that we have had a ton of food off of their menu, but the items we have had have been good. This is not your typical bar food folks, and I have to say, that their pizza is an absolute treat. We actually ordered a bar pie late Friday night, and it hit the spot!
So here it is Sunday, and we were going to go out to Delorenzo's tonight, but instead our plans changed, so we opted to order pies from The Cool Cricket, and once again, they didn't let us down! Not only are the pies massive, they are also delicious! For a snack, the bar pie is the perfect size, but the large pie will easily feed 3 people with no problem.
Tonight, we opted for two of the regular sized pies, and we'll be eating lunch and dinner for the next week! These things are big! I opted for the sausage, and Zelda went for the cheese. Again, nice crisp crust, with good cheese, a great sauce, and really nice spices. There is something about the sauce that gives it such a nice flavor, and I would love to have the recipe! YUM! All in all, I have a happy belly, and the pies were tasty! And there's plenty leftover for lunch and dinner tomorrow!
So in short, The Cool Cricket is worth a trip on a Friday night if you are looking to bust out a few tunes at karaoke to the masses, and they also get some great bands in there on Saturday nights. If nothing else, stop in for a beer one day after around of golf, and sit down to a pizza or a cheese steak. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, and Bob and his family are just nice people to sit down and chat with, so make sure you tell them that we sent ya! They may not recognize us as F. Scott and Zelda, but tell them John and Kate sent you and they'll know who you are talking about! Yes, that picture is from Halloween 2009 as we played "The Gosselin's!" And yes, I am sportin' the Ed Hardy T!
Kudos again to The Cool Cricket for giving their locals a nice place to hang out at, with good affordable food and drinks. Cheers gang! -F. Scott
The Cool Cricket
216 4th Street
Fieldsboro, NJ 08505
Phone: (609)291-9110
Also be sure to check out their Facebook page at:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

2007 Siduri Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

Unscrewed and poured tonight at Kenji Fusion in Hamilton, NJ and high octane right off the bat! Huge fruit on the nose, and that ever so identifiable Santa Rita Hills nose! I can't get enough of it. Nice ruby color in the glass, but thinning quite a bit towards the rim and showing it's youth. Nice strawberry and cherry cola, with subtle spices and more cherry. No funk detected whatsoever, and the nose was just a joy. On the palate, I think this wine will settle down quite a bit with another year in the bottle. Still a bit rough around the edges with some alcohol and tannin, but once that settles, the fruit profile will really shine, and this wine is big! But does Adam Lee really have many wines that are not huge? I don't think so, and that is one of the reasons I love his Siduri wines! Nice dark fruits, raspberry, cherry, blackberry, and strawberry with a nice spice and a bit of blueberry. With time, this wine started to show it's stuff, but now now, it's a hold for the short term as I think the elements need to integrate. Showing solid potential for the future, and still worthy of 89 points now. We'll give it a whirl with over the summer once it's had another 6 months in the bottle. Definitely shows potential for at least another point or two. Good job Adam! Cheers! -F. Scott

KFusion - Hamilton, NJ

It's been quite a while since we have visited the original Kenji's Fusion, which has now been branded KFusion, and tonight was the night as both Zelda and I have been craving good Asian Cuisine.
Upon pulling up, I got a bit nervous as there were quite a few people waiting in the lobby, as well as outside, but they must have had larger groups, and we were lucky enough to get their last two top. The place was definitely packed, and it was buzzin'.
As stated before, the decor in this original location is nice, from the stainless steel elements, to the modern lighting, it's just a nice room. If I had to make one complaint about the decor, I would say that they need to do something with the red wall with the bamboo to spice it up a tad, but that is really my only gripe.
Popped and poured an '07 Siduri Santa Rita Hills pinot noir tonight, so feel free to read the review above. Heck of a nice pinot noir for around $25! We started off with the Haru Maki (spring rolls) tonight, as well as the Crispy Crab Meat Balls. Out first were the spring rolls, steaming hot, and fried to a golden brown and served with sweet and sour. As always, these were nice, with a good fry and fresh vegetables.
A few minutes later the crab balls came out, and these too were piping hot. These were good sized round balls of crab meat, breaded and fried to a golden brown, served with a nice duck sauce, that seemed to have some kid of pepper or siracha in it. Whatever it was, they were very tasty.
For entrees tonight, we went for the General Tso's chicken, and a large plate of chicken fried rice. I know, nothing exciting, but these are nice comfort foods, and just what the doctor had ordered. Nice sized portion on the General Tso, with a god sauce, large breaded chunks of chicken, and some good peppers and veg.
As usual, the fried rice was good, but I will say that they use a bit too much onion, and I absolutely love onions. The chunks are just a bit too large for me, but thankfully they are easy enough to eat around. They also use some peas and carrots in the fried rice, and it always has some nice flavor.
All in all, what can I say other than another nice meal at KFusion? The ambiance is nice, the service was good, and for just over $30, this was a nice meal that left me plenty satisfied, so much that we even skipped dessert, although I probably could have made some room. The place was packed, and we even ran into our friends Stephen and Melissa there. If you guys are reading, great to see you as always! Cheers everyone! -F. Scott
Route 33 in Hamilton, NJ
Phone: (609)785-0008

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dublin Square Pub - Bordentown, NJ

If there is one thing that I crave during Lent, it is fish and chips on a Friday night when we aren't supposed to be eating the meat. That said, tonight we to Dublin Square Pub in Bordentown, NJ, to have a few pints of Guiness, and to enjoy some fish and chips. We met our friends Charnel and Abbie at Dublin Square tonight, and I enjoyed a few black and tans, while Zelda enjoyed her Tanqueray and tonics. Dublin Square was packed tonight, so we hung out at the bar for a while. As we walked in, there were masses of people waiting for tables, so a few beers were definitely in order while we waited for a table. Owner Mike got us a table right next to the bar, and we ordered, and I'd have to guess not even 10 minutes went by before a nice helping of fish and chips came out. Two big pieces of cod, in their signature black and tan beer breading, served over a heaping helping of french fries, and served with homemade tarter sauce. The fish was nice and crispy as always, and was not greasy in the least. It was fried through perfectly, and the mat vinegar complimented it nicely. Unfortunately, the fries left a little to be desired, were a bit saggy, and not exactly hot, but I only eat a few anyway, so it wasn't worth sending them back. Had they been hot, and fresh out of the oil, I am sure they would have been tasty. Regardless, for $13.95, this is still a good deal, and a nice sized portion. So Jersey, if you're looking for fish and chips, stop by Dublin Square and give them a try. Sure, Irish pubs aren't known for their fare and cuisine, but this is not your typical Irish Pub. Also check them out on Wednesday night for trivia night, and on the weekends for their live bands, which usually have some sort of Irish influence. Cheers! -F. Scott

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rossi's Bar & Grill - Trenton, NJ

Don't try to adjust your monitor's folks, yes, I was at Rossi's again this month, and what is there to say about Rossi's other than yum? Wednesday night seems to prove to be a great night to go out and have some good cuisine and try places that are close by. Tonight proved no differently, so Professor P., if you're reading, keep letting us out of class early on so I can imbibe in some good local cuisine! LOL! ;-)

Got to Rossi's and grabbed my corner seat and ordered a Yuengling from John behind the bar. Immediately ordered a bacon cheddar burger, medium, with homemade chips on the side at the recommendation of my good bicycling pal Gary.

Sat and watched the Olympics for a while, and not even 10 minutes later out came my burger, with a monster basket full of chips. Good lord the chips are a meal in themselves! Cut the burger in half, dumped a bit of Heinz ketchup on it, and some more ketchup on the plate for the chips.

First thing I noticed about the burger is the fact that it was even bigger than the last one. They obviously do not weigh their meat, and they could careless how big your burger is, and trust me when I say that they are big! The last one I had was big, but this was absolutely massive.

Once again, cooked perfect to the temp of medium, and once again, absolutely delicious, and absolutely tasty. The cheddar was bubbling, and the bacon was crisp, and there was nothing at all to complain about.

As for the chips, holy heaven on this lovely my readers! These chips were hot, and they were dry! How they keep this mountain of fried potato love from being greasy is beyond me, but these alone are worth the trip to Trenton. They were nicely fried, some lighter than others, yet some a nice golden russet brown. YUM! I ended up bringing half of them home in a giant brown paper bag, and I will be curious to see how they are tomorrow warmed up.

So once again my dear readers, to the above right is a nice picture of some lovely "beef porn" as those in the industry love to say, and I hope that it has your mouths watering. This is by far the best burger in New Jersey, and I highly recommend that anyone make he drive, whether it be 2 minutes, or two hours. You will not be disappointed!

Sorry for double posts on Rossi's within the same month, but this is a burger that just deserves to be talked about. Let the "nay-sayers" say their "nay's," but I am a fan of Rossi's for life. And as last time, give it up to Bob behind the bar for keeping the beer cold, and the bar happy!

One observation that I made is the simple fact that the roast pork sandwich looks absolutely ridiculous. As much as I would hate to go to Rossi's and not order a burger, the roast pork looks like a must try! The gauntlet has been laid down, so stay tuned for the next adventure to try to roast pork in the Rossi's saga! Cheers! -F. Scott

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Herb Lamb E II Cabernet Sauvignon RELEASE ALERT - February 2010

Here is the info on the latest release from Herb Lamb, cut and pasted from Herb Lamb's e-mail dated 14 FEB 2010. Unfortunately, I am going to pass on their whites as the mixed 6 packs are sold out, but the 2007 E II Cabernet is a heck of a steal at $45 per bottle. Unfortunately, these are only 2 bottle allocation, otherwise I would be ordering much more! I look forward to these in 5-10 years! Cheers! -F. Scott Although it is quiet in the vineyard and the vines are still dormant, the first six weeks of this year have been action packed! We have tasted and blended and filtered and bottled our 2009 E II Sauvignon Blanc for release in May, and put together all the packaging and press information for the 2007 E II Cabernet Sauvignon release . . . all under cloudy skies with almost 30 inches of rain! But this gives us hope for the 2010 vintage, so that we can continue to do what we love with healthy vines. 2007 E II Cabernet Sauvignon Offer You have probably heard all the excitement about the 2007 red wines coming from the Napa Valley. Well, it's true! Winemakers are calling the 2007 vintage "a classic growing season, creating perfectly balanced wines with great color, acid and concentration." We have noticed this in our vineyards as well, and were excited to realize the first fruit of our young replants in 2007. We have been removing small blocks of the 20 year old Cabernet Sauvignon vines each year to allow the replants to mature without competition, and this plan has proven to be very successful both in quality and quantity of the fruit. . Winemaker Michael Trujillo calls this wine ". . probably the most complete example of the E II Cabernet Sauvignon that we have ever bottled. It’s one of the biggest vintages of the decade; the color is phenomenal and it has brightness and freshness, with a clean acid. It’s the best of both worlds, big and lush but nicely structured to preserve the hillside fruit. . "The 2007 E II Cabernet Sauvignon has the plushness of the 1997 vintage and the richness of 1999. It has a solid core and big fruit flavors, but it's still approachable and juicy. It opens in the glass as it airs, showing dark, dried cherry, lots of rich cocoa, a touch of tobacco and even the richness of olive oil. Picked earlier than any previous vintage, the 2007 E II Cabernet Sauvignon also shows a little less alcohol. . With only 125 cases produced, we would like to offer you the opportunity to purchase a 2-bottle pack ($90.00) of this vintage. We know that it will sell out quickly, but suggest that you put one or two bottles away to try in a year or so, as the wine will only get better with age and aeration. We are also offering a mixed 6-pack of the 2008 E II Sauvignon Blanc and the 2007 E II Cabernet Sauvignon (3 each - $200.00), but quantities are very limited. We will ship your order in mid-March. . When ordering on-line, please use the password Wine (case sensitive) unless you have previously changed your password. Our shipper, Vintrust, has changed their name and contact information (Vinfillment - 644 Hanna Drive, American Canyon, CA 94503 (707) 656-4467) but they will be happy to help you schedule shipments if we are unable to accommodate your request. . If you would like to print out a physical order form, or see further information about this wine, please go to our website. Should you have any difficulty ordering, please do not hesitate to contact us for help at or (707) 967-9752 . . . we'd love to hear from you. . Order your 2007 E II Cabernet Sauvignon . For Valentines Day, we were out in the garden planting everything red; a cherry tree in the orchard and strawberries and raspberries in the garden. Hopefully, the rains will slow and we'll see the sun soon, and a warm spring will herald another successful vintage in both our garden and vineyard. . If you happen to be visiting the Napa Valley this winter - when tasting rooms are empty and you can get a table at any restaurant - we'd love to have you visit. Just call! Jennifer and Herb Lamb

Monday, February 15, 2010

Conte's Pizza - Princeton, NJ

So after hearing about Conte's Pizza in Princeton for the last year and a half or so from friends, as well as reading about Conte's on a thread on Chowhound for "Best Pizza in N.J.," tonight was the night that we finally gave it a whirl.
As Conte's website states, "During the snow season, we recommend that you call ahead to confirm that we are open." That I did, and was told that the kitchen was open until 8:30PM sharp.
So we arrived at Conte's around 7:45PM, and there was parking out front, which kind of surprised me given the mystique of this establishment. Regardless, we walked in, and grabbed two seats at the bar.
If it is ambiance that you are looking for, then I suggest looking elsewhere. Like Delorenzo's on both Hudson Street and Hamilton Avenue in Trenton, you are going for the pie, not for the ambiance and decor. It's all about the experience. In all honesty, this place could easily be converted into an Elk's or VFW lodge with no modifications other than changing the name on the sign, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
We ordered a couple of Bass Ale's as the magnums of vino behind the bar didn't look all that interesting, but after ordering our beers, we did notice that they do have a full bar. Not a bad thing at all, and good to know for the next time we visit.
We ordered our pie, and waited for the Olympics to come on one of the 3 large flat screens hanging on the wall behind the bar. We opted for a large pie, half plain, and half sausage. About 20 minutes later, the pie came out piping hot, and looked really nice.
After hearing all the hype about how Conte's has a better pie than Delorenzo's, the first thing I noticed was the simple fact that the crust didn't even compare, and was much thicker than that of Delorenzo's. To me, this is not a tomato pie, and more in the style of a true pizza than Delorenzo's. The next thing I noticed was the sausage, with the nice fennel seeds in the sausage that looked ridiculously tasty. Finally, I noticed all of the cheese on the pie, which was quite a bit more than you get on a tomato pie in Trenton. This is not a bad thing in the least.
After giving the pie a minute or so to cool, I cut into my first piece, and noticed that the crust didn't have the crunch to it that a tomato pie has, which proves the fact that this is more of a pizza, than a tomato pie. Maybe some of you will disagree, as many people have said on the different boards when talking about Conte's. Call me crazy, but this is a thin crust pizza, not tomato pie. Even the Conte's website calls it "thin crust," so now that that is established, let's get down to the nitty gritty.
For a pizza, this had a nice flavor. The crust was good and airy, and the sauce has nice Italian spices to it. The sausage was good, but definitely not as tasty as my favorite sausage from City Beef in Trenton. The cheese was also good, and piled on, and overall, it was a good pie. All in, 2 Bass Ale's and a large pie with sausage on one half came to just over $25. Not bad.
Now, would I go out of my way for this pizza? Probably not. But I would definitely go back there in the future. It didn't knock my socks off or blow my hair back, but it was a good pizza for what it was. The flavors were nice, and it was just an all around good pie. But that being said, Delorenzo's on Hudson Street or on Route 33 in Robbinsville still has my heart for the best pie in New Jersey. Cheers! -F. Scott
. Conte's Pizza
339 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: (609)921-8041

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tastebuds - New Hope, PA

For Valentine's Day this year, I wanted to check out yet another new restaurant that we haven't visited, and tonight, Tastebuds in New Hope, PA fit the bill. I made our reservation about 3 weeks ago, and had nothing but great customer service on the phone, returning my call the same day I called for a reservation. I also received a nice greeting his morning, to confirm our reservation. . I first remember walking past Tastebuds a few years ago, and can remember it looking nice from the window. Unfortunately, at the time, they were not opened for lunch, and it kind of slipped my mind over the last 2 years. Even today they are still a dinner only restaurant. Two other things worth noting,which were pointed out to me on the telephone, are 1) The restaurant is BYOB (surprise, I know), and 2) the restaurant does not take credit cards, so be sure to hit the ATM before your visit. . Upon walking in, the front dining room was full. The first thing I noticed were the exposed beams, revealing some old wine planked hardwood floors up on the second floor. This had a nice rustic look to it, yet the dining room has some modern elements as well from the hanging orange lighting over the tables, to the curtain along the back and side wall, to the white leather bench seat as you walk in. . We were greeted shortly after arriving, and brought to our two top in the right side dining room. This room has rustic painted white hardwood floors, exposed beams on the ceiling again, and a fireplace filled with river rock and candles. I think there were 3 other tables in this room. Behind this room, there is yet another dining room, with a large, white, round swanky looking fabric like ball hanging like a chandelier over one of the tables. . I reached into the Riedel carrying case, grabbed our stems, and was torn between a 1975 Château Léoville Las Cases, as well as a 1998 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Jennifer's. Needless to say, I went with the old Bordeaux, and was sure glad that I did. What a surprising treat, so feel free to read my review below. . One of the nice bonuses tonight was the fact that there was no special menu, and tonight's menu was the same as last nights, and the same as it will be next Wednesday. This menu can be seen online. No high priced menu, no markups, etc. This was a nice touch, and I can definitely appreciate a place that didn't raise their prices for Valentine's Day. . For starters tonight, Zelda opted for the ARUGULA salad, with Avocado, Heirloom Grape Tomatoes, and a Spicy Corn Vinaigrette. This salad seemed very intriguing to her with the different elements, and was a nice surprise. The arugula was nice and fresh, and cleaned nicely with no grit or funk whatsoever. It had a nice pungent aroma, and some good spice as well. On the salad were small pieces of avocado, and the arugula was tossed in the very light dressing. . I was actually expecting the dressing to be more like a creamed corn, but instead it was nice and light, with very subtle corn flavors. The dressing itself was not over done in the least, and the salad meshed together very nicely with the fresh grape tomatoes. . I on the other hand opted for a hot appetizer, and went way out of my comfort zone and ordered the Wild Mushroom Strudel with Goat Cheese, pistachios, and Carousel Farm Lavender Honey. . For the longest time, I haven't been a big fan of mushrooms, mostly because of the texture, but lately I have been trying to overcome this. I really don't know why I want to like mushrooms so bad, but this was nice as the mushrooms were meaty, yet had a very light flavor to them. They didn't overpower the dish in the least, and combined with the goat cheese, this really made for a nice dish. But as I have said in the past, and as Zelda will confirm, how can you not like anything wrapped in puffed pastry? . The lavender honey also added a very nice element. I will say that I am no a huge honey consumer, however, this was very tasty. The lavender was so subtle that I had a hard time picking it out. But the flavors of the honey were very vibrant, and very fresh, with a nice sweetness to it. I think I am going to have to order some soon. In short, this was a nice dish, and I would definitely order it again. . Zelda opted for the Crunchy Paillard of Chicken Breast with soy shitakes, whipped potatoes, and a tarragon jus. This came out, and was a nice chicken breast, pounded thin, with nice shitake mushrooms on the side, served over a bed of whipped potatoes. The chicken itself was breaded, and cooked very nicely. There was a nice even browning on the breading, and the chicken was cooked through perfectly, and was nice and juicy. Sometimes, you will order a breaded chicken piece like this, and there will be charred spots from where the chicken has been overcooked. This was not the case at all here, and all of the different ingredients melded together very nicely. The mushrooms were good and soft, and the tarragon sauce added a very nice, and flavorful element to it. As perfect as the filet would have been with the mature Bordeaux, I was in the mood for seafood, and opted for the Firecracker Gulf Shrimp, with coconut basmati rice and toasted cashews, with a tangerine honey. The sweetness on this dish was elegant, and not overpowering in the least. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and were the furthest thing from firm. They had a really nice texture to them, and the rice was a nice match. I really enjoyed the sweetness of this dish, and that is something that I do not say very often. The coconut was barely noticeable, and that was appreciated. The last thing I want my dinner to taste like is a Caramel Delight Girl Scout cookie. Not the case at all here, and this was nice. Surprisingly, we saved room for dessert, and ordered a special that was not on the menu. This was a chocolate espresso mousse with a framboise sauce and whipped cream, and was nice, light, and tasty. They make this from decaf espresso, so be not worried about staying away all night after this one. The chocolate was nice and rich, and was the perfect portion for the two of us to share. It was light, and just capped off a really nice meal. So overall, I am very happy that we came to visit Tastebuds. For just over $71, we each had a starter, an entree, and we split dessert. That is a small price to pay in my opinion for food of this quality, on Valentine's Day nonetheless, but as I have said in the past, that is the beauty of visiting a BYOB. . The service tonight was outstanding between our two servers. They were both very pleasant, quick, and attentive. I didn't feel rushed in the least, and we were not pressured in the least. Unfortunately, I didn't get either of their names, but kudos to the staff for giving us great service on this lovely Valentine's Day. Kudos to the chef as well . I also thought the decor was nice, with some rustic charm, as well as some modern elements. Parking however is not super convenient, but you really cannot fault the restaurant for that, as everywhere in New Hope has this same issue. We were lucky and parked a 1/2 block up the street. . All in all, the service was great, and the food was good. Was it the best meal we've ever had? No, but all the dishes were well thought out for the menu, and well executed. A very pleasant Valentine's Day, and I look forward to going back and re-visiting Tastebuds this summer! Cheers! . Hours: 5:30PM Wednesday-Sunday Closed Monday and Tuesday B.Y.O.B Credit Cards NOT ACCEPTED - CASH ONLY 49 W. Ferry Street New Hope, PA 18938 Phone: (215)862-9722

1975 Château Léoville Las Cases

I was very skeptical about this bottle, but knew that it has been well stored in our cellar for the last few years. Popped and poured tonight, Valentine's Day at Tastebuds in New Hope, PA. This was a classic example of a mature Bordeaux, from what was supposed to be a weak vintage. Regardless, this showed well, and had a good fill well into the neck. Cork was soaked 80% of the way through, with the faintest sign of mold under the foil. Nonetheless, it came out in one piece, which surprised me...or maybe our server was just that good with the corkscrew! Regardless, we gave him a nice taste, and he seemed to appreciate and enjoy it. Good on ya! Nice to see someone with a nice appreciation for the nectar of the God's at a BYOB! Deep garnet color in the glass, with the slightest bit of bricking, but this was more of a purple color with a slight fading around the rim, which surprised me. A bit of band aid on the nose, with some nice hints of cherry, pencil lead, wet slate, tobacco, leather and cedar. There was also the slightest bit of sweetness on the nose. On the palate, I was absolutely shocked, not expecting much in the least. Very nice mature cherry and strawberry on the palate, with a little bit of spice and cedar/leather. Some other red fruits were on the palate, but didn't really dominate, and were hard to identify, but had some berry like qualities. Overall, I was surprised there was as much fruit on the palate as there was. The finish was nothing to write home about, and albeit a bit short, it was smooth, the acidity was nice, and the tannins were well integrated. It was no 1982, but it was nice and pleasant, and worth of 92 points. Happy Valentine's Day! Cheers!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stuff Yer Face - New Brunswick, NJ

After running some errands, and going to meet Danny DeVito for a photo op and to taste his new limoncello, we worked up an appetite, and Stuff Yer Face in "Rutger's Town" was the right call to fill our stomachs! Full review to come! 4-Cheese Boli: Swiss, mozzarella, romano, and cheddar cheese with tomato sauce. Original Boli: mozzarella cheese, onions, green peppers, salami, and cappicola 49 Easton Avenue New Brunswick, NJ 08901 Phone: (732)247-1727

Friday, February 12, 2010

1995 Sanford Pinot Noir Barrel Select Sanford & Benedict

A 15 year old Sanford pinot noir! Wow what a treat! This wine is definitely on the down slope, but could be one of the best '95's we've had in the last few years. The fruit is now lacking, but there are still some subtle raspberry and strawberry hints there, although the flavors are much more sour now than I am sure they were 5-8 years ago. A bit of sour cherry, the faintest hints of spice, and a bit of brett. On the palate, I wasn't sure that this was going to be drinkable, but it was plenty drinkable. Again, the fruit was lacking, but there was definitely a bit of cherry, black cherry, and some other dark mixed berries. The finish was nicely integrated, but a bit on the dirty/earthy side. The tannins are gone, the alcohol is gone, and the finish is short, but really, want do you want for a 15 year old pinot from Santa Barbara County? We purposely left about a 1/2 glass in the decanter, vacuumed and threw it in the fridge overnight. Needless to say, on day two this wine was definitely finished, flat, and undrinkable. My suggestion is to drink these up now if you have them, and I wouldn't recommend decanting. Pop and pour these bad boys, and free up some room in the cellar! All in a all, a nice blast from the past, and very enjoyable to drink during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Games. This may not be a 95 pointer, but was definitely worthy of 87 points. Cheers!

Stefania - Spring 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon RELEASE ALERT

As always, if there is one release that we truly look forward to throughout the year, it is the offerings from Stefania Wines. As many of you have read on here, we have a true love for the wines that Paul and Stefania Romero are crafting, and for what these wines cost, there are not many better QPR’s (quality to price ratio) wines out there. These wines easily drink like $75+ wines, yet Paul and Stefania are still keeping their pricing down. What can you say to them other than a big “thank you!” That being said, below is the information that I have cut and pasted from their blog. We were lucky enough to receive a futures offer on these wines (sent out to the top 10% of their mailing list), and we went all in with a case of each. Every offer from Stefania Wines is always a good one, and for what these wines cost, they are just so tasty, and really appeal to our palates. Whether it be one of their many cabernet sauvignon, syrah, Haut Tubee, pinot noir, or chardonnay, these wines are always incredible, vintage in, vintage out. I am happy that we discovered their wines from reading Paul’s postings on the Wine Spectator Message Board, and we have been happily buying since the 2005 vintage. That being said, if you haven’t signed up for their mailing list already, I highly encourage you to do so as their mailing list continues to fill up by the day. So sign up, and see their upcoming offering below! Cheers!
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Stefania and I are starting to put together the letters and order forms for our next release. We hope to have them in the mail by the 15th. Here's a preview of what's coming up:
2007 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Chaine d' Or Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains
As you may remember we took over operations at Chaine d'Or in August of 2007. We harvested early in the morning of October 27th and brought in a large harvest for the estate of just under 3 tons. 2007 was a near perfect growing year and Anne Anderson thought the fruit was the best she had seen since installing the vineyard in 1987. The grapes were harvested and transported to the crusher in 30 pound bins and 100% destemmed.
Fermentation was on the native wild yeasts of the vineyard and winery. We pressed the wine gently after 22 days and separated the press wine from the free run juice. The press wine was not used in the final wine. The wine was aged for 22 months in 60% new French Oak and 40% neutral French Oak. The final numbers are pH 3.39 and alcohol of 14.1%
The wine is dark with a gem-like quality to the color. The nose takes significant aeration at this point to reveal a classic 'Pauillac Nose' of pencil, currant, berries and tobacco. There are huge ripe tannins framing the wine now with notes of spice, campfire smoke, and pure ripe berry fruit. Notes of cigar box and plums linger on the finish. Stefania calls this a serious steak wine.
Those of you familiar with the Estate will find this similar to the 1999 or 2001 vintages. This is a serious Cabernet, and one I think will benefit tremendously from extended aging. The alcohol and pH levels, combined with the ripe tannins and pure fruit offer this wine incredible aging potential. Today the wine will require decanting for at least 30-45 minutes. I don't know if I can predict a lifespan on this wine, I don't doubt that those of you with special occasions to remember in 2007 will enjoy this wine 10, 20 and perhaps 30 and 40 years from now.
Mailing List Price: $30 per bottle. Total Production 169 cases.
Allocations on this wine will be tight. I think I can offer a three pack to everyone who has signed up but I think we'll sell out in a couple weeks.
2007 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains
This is our second offering of a Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was assembled from three vineyards: the Harvest Moon Vineyard, Elandrich Vineyard and Chaine d'Or Vineyard. We feel this combination offered a complete wine. The Harvest Moon contributing black fruit, mint and spice, Elandrich red fruit and richness, and Chaine d'Or a classic structure and Cabernet profile. The final blend is 58% Harvest Moon, 25% Chaine d'Or and 17 % Elandrich. The wine also contains 13% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc from the Chaine d'Or and Elandrich Vineyards.
Each vineyard was harvested and fermented separately in late October and allowed to ferment on native yeast. The lots were kept separate until the spring of 2008 when we selected the final blend and combined the lots for the final wine. We used 67% new French Oak and 33% neutral French Oak on this wine. The wine was bottled after 22 months in barrel. The final numbers are pH 3.62 and alcohol 13.5%.
The Wine has deep red rich colors with hues of blue and purple. The nose is complex with plum, smoked meat, currants, super ripe blackberries and a hint of mint. The wine is plush and ripe on the palate with cigar notes, berry pie fruit, and complex notes of tobacco, black fruit and a long, long finish. Stefania noted this is one of the most complex wines we've made and she picks up hints of the redwood forests that surround Chaine d'Or and Harvest Moon.
This wine too will be long lived, and as we tasted it my comment was: "I'll be happy to stick this wine in my cellar and drink it the next 20 years." Many of you have asked me what my favorite Stefania is and I've always answered "2006 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon." I think that answer will now be the 2007!
Mailing List Price: $40 per bottle. Total production 142 cases.We may also do some sort of combo pack and there will be free shipping on case orders.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Danny DeVito - at Joe Canal's Woodbridge this Saturday 13 February 2010.

We've all heard the funny stories of Danny DeVito and George Clooney having a late night out drinking limoncello. Well, obviously Mr. DeVito has a true passion for limoncello, as he has released his very own. For more information on this project, fel free to visit his website at:
Danny will be here in New Jersey on Saturday, visiting Joe Canals in Iselin, NJ. He will be there from 1PM-5PM. From the e-mail, it states:
Danny Devito will be making a rare NJ appearance at Joe Canal's Iselin location ONLY on February 13th from 1pm-5pm. Signed bottles of his Limoncello will be available for purchase. Danny Devito's Premium Limoncello will also be available for sampling. We hope you'll join us for this exciting opportunity!
That being said, stop on out, say hello, give his limoncello a sample, pick up a few bottles to bring home, and get an autograph or picture with him. Cheers!
Joe Canal's Discount Liquor Outlet of Woodbridge
489 US Route 1 South
Woodbridge, NJ 08830