Monday, November 26, 2007

On the Wine Trail in Long Beach

The Wine Country is a wine shop in Signal Hill. It is nestled in a warehouse district, not far from the airport. They offer a decent selection of wine: the store is big, but not too big, so it is easy to navigate and all the employees can give advice and guide your choices. I dropped in on a recent Saturday afternoon to check out their regular Saturday afternoon wine tasting. Ten tastes for $20, this afternoon they were pouring a variety of Meritages. Meritage is any blend of grapes, which meant these were all very different in taste, structure, price point, and from all over the world. They had a table with some cheese and crackers to snack on in between tastes. The folks pouring the wine gave all the bottles a nice introduction, but I think the majority of the friendly crowd were more interested in socializing. At any rate, I felt it was a good value for the price, and it is always nice to taste wines I may not normally pick out on my own.

The Wine Country
2301 Redondo Ave
signal Hill, CA 90755

The Great Gatsby of Beverly Park

A couple Sunday's ago, my dad's friend invited us to a charity event raising money to help children with eye disease. It was held at the Beverly Park mansion of Paulette and Larry Cohen. The theme was "Gatsby in the Garden", complete with Gatsbyesque cars in the driveway. The party was held on the huge backyard lawn with a gaming tables, full open bars, passed hors d'oeurves, and high tea buffet. After the valet took our car away, we walked through the formal, carefully decorated living room to the garden, where we were greeted with a server holding a tray of rose champagne. Just right for a perfectly clear Sunday afternoon.

After several hors d'oeurves, including coconut shrimp, lobster spring rolls, and seared scallops, we strolled through the guest cottage - a quaint little one room "cottage" with a small kitchen, overstuffed chairs and daybead, and some nice reading material.

They had tables set up with fruit and cheese, and another area with tea, scones, tea sandwiches, and triffle (the caterer was British). Al Pacino was the celebrity guest, looking cool in all black and dark sunglasses.

The highlight of the house, for me, was the outdoor dining area, placed right in front of the vineyard. A copper kitchen - grill, range, oven and sink - surrounded by a granite bar. I can just imagine the host telling his friends, "just a casual dinner outside..."

After lunch we hit the roulette table. Just like Vegas - first I am up $150, then I loose it all. Good thing it was not real money. I had better luck at the blackjack table. After losing all of our fake money, the valet brought around our car and we drove back to Mar Vista.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Epicure Imports

Epicure Imports is an importer of gourmet food items, mostly French, with a warehouse in North Hollywood. They are open to the public a couple days out of the year, and last Saturday was one of them. We strolled though the aisles picking out French vinegars, wines, chocolates, olives oils, truffle oil, nuts, dried fruit, spices, and some middle eastern items like couscous and harissa. My favorite section is thier walk-in cheese refrigerator. They have many French and Italian cheeses you have seen in Whole Foods and Surfas, including Sottocenere al Tartufo, the Italian cheese with black truffle. They have all the D'Artagnon products like foie gras, and duck fat, and some Italian meats as well. Check their website for sale dates, and be prepared for a very slow check out, even when there is no one in front of you!

Epicure Imports
6900 Beck Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91604

Saturday, November 17, 2007

On the Wine Trail in Silver Lake

I went to a Thursday night tasting the the newly remodeled Silver Lake Wine. What a great, neighborhood (unfortunately, not in mine) wine shop. Same simple, modern interior, a longer tasting bar, and more space overall. They were pouring two flights: 3 Beaujolais and 3 Sauvignon Blanc. For $12, we each started with the sauv. blanc fight. We tried 3 very different wines, from Australia, California and France. This is the beauty of a focused tasting like this: comparing and contrasting the same varietal from different areas. For my fellow budding wine expert friend, this was as educational as it was fun. They served some bread and Presidente butter to snack on in between tastes (these are generous pours - my only suggestion would be to add a spit bucket). We moved onto the Beaujolais tasting, which we shared, and we still given good size pours. All wine featured in the night's tasting were 10% off, and were very reasonably priced. After driving for 1 hour in traffic, it was so nice to relax, sip some good wine, and learn a little something.

Silver Lake Wine
2395 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Michelin Guide Release Party

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the Michelin Guide release party at Les Deux in Hollywood. This is the first time Michelin has published a guide for Los Angeles, so it is a bit of a big deal for the Los Angeles food scene. The courtyard was filled with chefs and bloggers, including Eddie Lin from Deep End Dining! Eddie has lived out two blogger fantasties of mine: appearing on both Good Food and Visiting with Huell Howser!

I also had the pleasure meeting Jonah from LA Foodblogging and Digesty. We talked food and restaurants (of course), ate (not so good) hors d'oeuvres such as sliders, mac n' cheese, barbequed shrimp, and rubbed shoulders with Wolfie, Josiah, Joachim, Michael, to name a few. They handed out advance copies of the book, which comes out tomorrow. On the way out, we were given this bag of swag!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Brunello Trattoria

Brunello Trattoria on Washington Blvd near La Cienega just opend last month, and I tried it for the first time last night. It is a comfortable, neighborhood trattoria with pastas, pizzas, panini, salads and secondi. They have several daily specials in each category, and beer and wine. First off they gave us bread, which is thier pizza dough, with a some olive oil. Very nice bread, warmed in the oven with a thin crisp crust and chewy interior. We started off with the pizza daniele: prociutto, mozzarella, ricotta, & parmesan. Very nice with a thin crust - definately the highlight of the meal. Next time, I will get one all to myself. The salads were disappointing. I ordered an out of season panzanella: tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and bread. I should have known better than to order tomatoes in the winter. They were flavorless.

My friends Caesar was overdressed. She blames us, her foodie friends. Had her palate not developed by hanging out with us, she would have enjoyed her salad, she claimed. The mains were better. Two of my friends had one of the pasta specials, linguine with lobster, which they loved. My friend who started with the Caesar had the meat lasagna, and was disappointed yet agian. Our fault again, apparently. My carpaccio was nice. Thinly sliced and pounded meat with arugula, artichokes and parmesan. It was very light and refreshing, with a nice zing from the lemon.

We shared a great bottle of Rosso di Montalcino for $45 which was dry and easy going. They only offer about 5-6 wines by the glass. Most of the wine is in the $40-50 dollar range, but you can find a couple of bottles for under $35. Service was friendly and unobtrusive. The only flaw was we waited a bit too long for the bill, but that is much preferred over being rushed throughout the meal. They let you linger and enjoy the evening. Brunello Trattoria is a great little neighborhood restaurant. Well-priced, great pizza (and they deliver), and good wine. The decor and layout leave a bit to be desired - it looks like it was done on the cheap. My friend was convinced our waiter was also the carpenter. But that's ok. It is part of their charm.

Brunello Trattoria
6001 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232