Wednesday, December 30, 2015

LangeTwins Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

As part of a holiday package from Lodi Wine, I received a bottle of LangeTwins Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. I love the motto on the bottle “To Be Generational, We Must Be Sustainable”; sustainability is such an important aspect for the wine world to adopt moving forward. Five generations of the family grew grapes and in 2006 they opened the winery to showcase their fruit. Going beyond basic sustainability practices, the family are not only concerned with the health of the vineyard but also its surrounding natural environment. Kudos to them and, since you can taste the quality in the bottle, good for all of us in more ways than one.

LangeTwins Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Tasting Notes:
Certified Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing; aged 16 months in predominantly French oak; deep plum color with ruby edges; dark cherry, plum and violet aromas; blueberry, dark cherry, bright red berry, and subtle herbal flavors; cork closure; SRP $15 (sample). Paired with a coffee rub-crusted steak and asparagus, fantastic melding of fruit, meat, and veggie.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Broadside Wines

Broadside Wines is about the expression of place, in this case the Margarita Vineyard in Paso Robles. Minimalist winemaking (harvesting at lower sugars, employing native fermentation and using little to no new oak) mean these wines are meant to be savored, not get knocked over by. We had a wonderful virtual tasting with the winemakers, Brian and Stephy Terrizzi, and Charles Communications - watch a replay of the tasting here: Brandlive.

Broadside Wines

Tasting Notes:
Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: aged 14 Months in neutral French and American oak: dark color; plum, rhubarb, and pomegranate aromas; dark cherry and tobacco flavors into a tart red berry finish; needs some time in bottle; cork closure; SRP $18.
Margarita Vineyard Merlot 2013: 16 year old vines; native fermentation; aged in 100% neutral French oak; clear ruby red; dark cherry and herb aromas; black cherry, black pepper, cassis, and tobacco flavors; cork closure; SRP $22.
Margarita Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot from 16 year old vines; native fermentation; aged in 97% neutral, 3% new French oak; ruby red color; cherry, spice, and tobacco aromas; cassis, tar, herb, and dark cherry flavors; nice acidic backbone into a tannic finish - this could use more time in the bottle; cork closure; SRP $25.
Central Coast Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2014: deep golden brown; honeyed pear, stone fruit, and white floral aromas; muskmelon, lemon, stone fruit and floral flavors; twist off closure; SRP $20.
Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions my own.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Wine of the Week: Herencia Altés Garnatxa Negra 2013

In the south eastern corner of Catalonia is Terra Alta - a family of grape growers decides to make wine, and Herencia Altés was born.

Wine of the Week: Herencia Altés Garnatxa Negra 2013

Tasting Notes:
Hand harvested Garnatxa Negra grapes; aged in 300 litre French oak barrels; opaque dark ruby red color; smoky pomegranate, cassis, dusty plum, and herb aromas; red berry, blueberry, then tart rhubarb and cassis flavors; medium round mouthfeel into a tart acidic finish; twist off closure; SRP $10.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

OZV (Old Zin Vines)

I love old vine Zinfandels, especially from the Lodi area - the sometimes 100+ year old vines are great for reflecting the terroir of their vineyards, and seem to play well with other varietals when blended. OZV (Old Zin Vines) are bottled by Oak Ridge Winery, a family that has farmed grapes in Lodi for 5 generations. 

OZV (Old Zin Vines)

Tasting Notes:
Old Vine Zinfandel 2013: fermented in separate lots in both oak and stainless; lots blended after aging; pleasing deep red in color; dried currant, dark cherry, and dust aromas; dark cherry, prune, smoky plum and tart red berry flavors; medium pleasant mouthfeel; nicely balanced wine; cork closure; SRP $14. Paired fantastically with a variety of pizza toppings.
Red Wine Blend 2013: Blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet, Petite Sirah and Merlot; fermented in open top stainless steel; deep dark ruby red with garnet highlights; smoke, blueberry, and red berry aromas; dark berry, plum, cream soda, and rhubarb flavors; very smooth mouthfeel; nicely balanced wine with a pleasing lingering finish; cork closure; SRP $14. Tasted this on its own and also with a burger topped with cheese, onions, jalapenos, and a little bit of bbq sauce. Tasty on its own, then really came alive with the food.
These are simple, well-crafted, and extremely quaffable wines, the sort that go with a variety of foods and therefore are great to have around. There's also an OZV Rosé that's probably really good based on the other two wines in this line.

Wines provided for review purposes - opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#CarmenereDay with Wines of Chile

Yesterday was the 21st year since Carmenère was "rediscovered," having been mistaken for Merlot for many years. One of the six original Bordeaux varietals, Carmenère was brought to Chile in 1851 and is now the 4th largest produced varietal by volume. The name comes from the french word "carmin," or crimson, so named for the fiery red the leaves turn in the fall.

The Carmenère Day celebration was a lot of fun, utilized both Periscope and Twitter, and was celebrated by people all over the world. I was part of a group invited by the Wines of Chile to sample wines and share our experience - though I attempted to tune in to the Periscope offerings, it was too distracting for me and I ended up just chatting on Twitter. Neat idea, but for me, too much.

#CarmenereDay with Wines of Chile

Tasting Notes:
Los Vascos Grande Reserve 2013: ruby red with garnet edges; plum, raspberry, and tobacco aromas; blackberry, black pepper, and herbal notes; this one needs some bottle time to come together more cohesively; cork closure; SRP $20.
Casa Silva Microterroir de los Lingues 2007: average of 14 year old vines; grapes harvested from micro-sites and fermented separately; mix of wild and inoculated yeasts; aged 12-14 months before blending; dark violet with ruby edges; tart red fruit, black pepper, and herbal aromas; dark fruit flavor, then tart red berries into a coffee and black pepper finish; beautifully balanced and a pleasure to drink; cork closure; SRP $50.
Maquis Gran Reserva 2012: 100% hand picking; cold macerated; fermented in stainless steel tanks; malolactic fermentation; in stainless steel tanks; 80% aged 10 months in second and third use French oak barrels, 20% in stainless steel tanks; softer nose with violet, bright red fruit, and strawberry aromas; dark fruit, tobacco, tart red fruit into a black pepper finish; this will be amazing after a few more years in bottle; cork closure; SRP $16.
Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard 2012: hand harvested organic grapes; 96% Carmenére/4% Syrah; wild yeast; fermented in stainless steel tanks and wooden vats; aged in 225L French oak barrels for 9 months: 58% in new oak, 12% in second use, and 30% third use; deep violet color with ruby edges; blackberry, toast, and black pepper aromas; dark fruit, pepper and lots of herbal flavors; another wine that needs more bottle time; wine bottles are now 15% lighter and made from 60-70% recycled glass; cork closure; SRP $24.
I've long been a fan of Carmenère, appreciating especially the black pepper bite that seems to be found in most, if not all, the examples I've tried. This tasting showed how versatile the grape is, with a variety of styles represented. One unexpected thing was that my favorite wine of the night was the Casa Silva, a wine from 2007; while the other, younger wines were all tasty, but in my opinion, needed more bottle time. Carmenère is a grape that can be aged!

(Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.)

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Identitá Chicago

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend Identitá Chicago, put on by Identitá Golose with the Merano WineFestival and held at Eataly Chicago. Identitá Golose, founded in 2004 by Italian food journalist Paolo Marchi, is a culinary organization with a mission to highlight the best of contemporary Italian cuisine, showcase the culinary excellence of each Italian region, and honor the top Italian chefs who proudly blend traditional techniques with modern methods. The Merano WineFestival, founded in 1992 by Helmuth Köcher, is one of the world’s largest and most exclusive wine events celebrating the finest selections of Italian and international wines This was a one-time-only tasting event pairing 100 of Italy’s most important wines from 30 of the country’s most acclaimed wineries with bites utilizing Italian products at La Scuola—Eataly Chicago’s cooking school.

Identitá Chicago

When attending a wine tasting like this, with so many options to taste, it's best to make a plan and then stick with it. I opted to taste only wines that were made with varietals I had not tasted before. This limited the amount of wine consumed, exposed me to new grapes (20 more!), and allowed me to add to my Wine Century Club list. Wins all around.

Even with this plan, I could feel the wine going to my head. Happily, this was a very casual tasting, the pourers friendly, and the space not too crowded. The food provided by Eataly Chicago was very tasty and I used some strategically timed breaks to eat good food and drink some water, and take notes on which winery table I would head to next.

A really great afternoon of food and wine - thanks to Wagstaff Worldwide for the invite!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2014

I recently received a tasting sample from Michel Chapoutier’s Domaine de Bila-Haut, their property in Roussillon. The name refers to an old farm villa which was built high into the mountain slopes, among some old vineyards. The Domaine comprises 75 hectares of land cultivated under bio-dynamic farming techniques almost 150 meters above sea level. The Roussillon vineyards are located on terraces with stony soil, with black and brown schist, gneiss, limestone and chalk.

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2014

Tasting Notes:
Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2014: vibrant ruby color; dusty dark fruit aromas with a hint of rhubarb and oregano; dark fruit, mushroom, herb and some tart red berry flavors; medium mouthfeel with a nice bit of acidity; short finish; cork closure; MSRP $15.

 
Trailer Fac & Spera from GFILM on Vimeo.

Wine provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wine of the Week: Guenoc Wines Petite Sirah 2013

Founded by actress Lillie Langtry in 1888, Guenoc Wines is part of the 21,349-acre Langtry Estate, which lies sixty miles north of San Francisco in the Guenoc Valley.

Wine of the Week: Guenoc Wines Petite Sirah 2013

Tasting Notes:
86% Petite Sirah, 14% Pinot Noir; dark ruby red color; cream soda, red berry, sweet plum, and black pepper aromas; prune, red berry, blueberry, leather, and tart cherry flavors; twist off closure; SRP $7.99.
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lunch with a Legend: José Galante

I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy. If you’re a fan of “Wayne’s World,” you’ll recognize my lament when I was told I’d be having a lunch with José Galante, whose winemaking career has spanned nearly my entire life (this is the fortieth year that he has made wine in Argentina). Talk about pressure.

Lunch with a Legend: José Galante

I walked into the Tavern on Rush to be greeted by José and his PR and Luxury Portfolio Manager,  Matias Bauzá Moreno, both slightly formal in the way foreign visitors sometimes are. Sitting down, I couldn’t help but notice that there were quite a few bottles lined up for a lunch. I sincerely hoped I could keep up and not make a fool of myself.

I needn’t have worried – both men were friendly and excited to share the great work they were doing at Bodegas Salentein in the Uco Valley of Argentina. And this quality is seen across the three levels that were presented: Portillo, entry level; Killka, a step up and labels bearing art from their art museum; and Salentein, which covers all the wines that are considered their best.

Many wines poured, discussed, and related to not just to what was in the glass, but everything that went into the making of these bottles. Their grapes all come from the Uco Valley, which sits at elevations ranging from 3,000–4,000 feet or so above sea level, southwest of Mendoza. Alluvial soil, minimal rain (water is used from the surrounding Andes Mountains) and 250 plus sunny days a year mean that vine growing is tough, but doable. Winds keep pests away and warm days, cool nights make for high quality production.

I'd love to visit Bodegas Salentein. At almost 5,000 acres, this is a huge estate, including 1,124 acres of grapes, the winery, a 125-acre nature preserve, an art museum (Killka Center for Culture and the Arts), and the Posada Salentein, where one can stay to take it all in. From photos, the Uco Valley is very beautiful and not large, so driving down from Mendoza is easy if you're not staying in the valley itself.

Lunch with a Legend: José Galante

Highlights of the Tasting:
2013 Salentein Numina Gran Corte: the "Great Blend," made up of 62% Malbec, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc; the handpicked grapes from the El Oasis estate; separately fermented and aged in 7,000 liter oak casks; blended after 6 months, then aged 16 months; this is an orchestra of grapes deftly handled by José, the conductor; beautiful nose, with fruit through mid-palate and  throughout the finish; cork closure; MSRP $40.
2012 Salentein Single Vineyard Malbec: hand harvested grapes from La Pampa estate; 95% fermented in 7,000-litre oak casks and 5% in 225-litre first use French oak barrels.; cold macerated, then racked to oak barrels for malolactic fermentation; lovely fruit on the nose and once again, through mid-palate and into the finish; if the Numina is an orchestra, this is a deft solo artist; cork closure; $50.
2012 Salentein Single Vineyard Chardonnay: hand harvested grapes from San Pablo estate; 6 month oak barrel fermentation; aged sur lie; total malolactic fermentation; straight forward Chardonnay flavor, reduced to its essence, easily the best Chardonnay I've ever had - worth searching out, but only 500 cases made; cork closure; SRP $50.
What was most noticeable to me, across the board, was that the Salentein portfolio shares similar high-quality characteristics. Whether you buy a less expensive Portillo or go for a single vineyard Salentein Chardonnay, you’re going to find fruit at every step of tasting: up front on the nose, through the mid palate, and all the way through the finish. The fruit flavors are straightforward, not masked, and the wines are all beautifully balanced, with acid backbones that make them a pleasure to drink, either on their own or especially with food.

Thanks to José and Matias for sharing their wines, knowledge, and friendly company. Special thanks to Balzac Communications & Marketing for setting up this lunch.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wine of the Week: Hand of God 2010 Old Vine Malbec

For our recent Anniversary, I pulled out a wine I expected would be special, the Hand of God 2010 Old Vine Malbec, and we weren't disappointed. Tasted with a grilled steak, potatoes au gratin, and asparagus spears. Held up and evolved with every minute and bite.

Wine of the Week: Hand of God 2010 Old Vine Malbec

Tasting Notes
From vines vines planted in the 1920's in the Stolen Horse Vineyard (Cruz de Piedra, Maipu, Mendoza, Argentina); aged 20 months in 100% new French oak; super dark and opaque wine; smoke, earth and dark fruits on the nose; dark fruit, earth, subtle tart red berry and a touch of cassis flavors; beautifully balanced with a nice acid backbone; flavors continue through long and smooth finish; cork closure; SRP $75.
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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Wine of the Week: Black Sheep Le Grand Noir Rosé 2014

"The select vineyards used to produce the wines of Le Grand Noir are located in the notable regions of Minervois and Carcassone. Situated among rolling uplands and broad plateaus between the Pyrennes and “Black” mountain ranges, the diverse soils are comprised of limestone, chalk, clay, granite, and schist. The mild Mediterranean climate provides ideal conditions for producing high quality fruit. The wines are bottled in association with Celliers Jean d’Alibert."

Wine of the Week: Black Sheep Le Grand Noir Rosé 2014

Tasting Notes:
85% Grenache, 15% Syrah; beautiful pale coral color, tending to orange almost; subtle floral, tart red berry, citrus aromas; red berry, subtle tropical, and citrus flavors into a tart acidic finish; dry and refreshing with enough fruit to keep it interesting; twist off closure; SRP $10.
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Friday, October 2, 2015

Barbakoa Tacos and Tequila, Downers Grove, IL

A partnership between Jerry Kleiner and the Buonavolanto family, Barbakoa Modern Latin Bistro is slightly out of place in the suburbs, feeling more like a hip downtown restaurant than the typical fare usually found. The menu is puzzling at first, until you realize that there is a creativity and whimsy at work here – Chef Dudley Nieto has reinterpreted Latin cuisine through the lens of an outsider, respectful of, but not bound by traditions. Served semi-tapas style, with mostly shared plates being the plan, it’s a place to go have fun and not be too stuffy.

Barbakoa Tacos and Tequila, Downers Grove, IL

We dined on a relatively quiet Tuesday evening (though it was getting busier as we left), so hearing our waiter John explain the menu was easy enough. And what a menu it is. Tacos, ceviche, guacamole, and lots of meat slow cooked (hence barbakoa) – there are twists on pretty much everything (shrimp taco, pineapple laden guacamole, etc) and everything is really, really good. Order anything with the “B” denoting a “Barbakoa must have!” and you won’t go wrong. We enjoyed each and every dish and would order them again, except I’m betting that everything else on the menu is equally good.

Barbakoa is not just about food, however, with an extensive bar to support the food. With “Tacos and Tequila” prominently on the façade and a library of more than 100 tequilas, it makes sense to order that drink, and I highly recommend going with a flight or two to get the full experience (also, the “sangrita” that is served as a palate cleanser is out of this world tasty, I kind of wish they served full size glasses of it). The Barbakoa Margarita is worth ordering if you’re not into drinking tequila straight up, served with a side of Grand Marnier so you can adjust the taste to your liking (it’s a fantastic margarita that really showcases the Avion Reserva 44 Ultra Premium Extra Añejo which is used as the base). Don’t like tequila? (Probably just haven’t tried the good stuff.) Beer and wine are available, and I can personally vouch for the mojito, super minty and refreshing.

Barbakoa Tacos and Tequila, Downers Grove, IL

The restaurant is bright, colorful, open and, I’ll bet, pleasntly abuzz on a rockin’ weekend night. A large dining room has ample seating, with a separate room that is available for parties or as overflow for really busy times. The Lounge also has an additional adjoining room with its own personal bar, perfect for a party or group luncheon. The outdoors eating is clearly a patron fave, with its colorful seats and fireplace, and had the most people the night we were there.

Looking for something out of the ordinary out in the western suburbs of Chicago? Make your way over to Barbakoa Modern Latin Bistro and get ready for something unique and really tasty. Looking forward to returning and also the next partnership effort, which we hope is forthcoming in our neck of the woods.

This meal was provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Barbakoa

Barbakoa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tapistry Brewing, Bridgman, MI

Southwest Michigan is one of our favorite areas to visit, especially places that are either food or drink based. On out way home from a wedding this past weekend, we stopped in at a new-to-us place, Tapistry Brewing. From our usual home base in Union Pier, this is usually a bit further than we want to drive, but this time it worked out perfectly for us. We're glad we stopped.

Tapistry Brewing, Bridgman, MI

Tapestry's establishment seems to be about clean lines and minimal fuss - you don't really notice the furniture but instead focus on the bar and long row of taps beyond. This place is all about the beer. If you look around closely, there are some cool touches throughout, from the interesting art to the customized tables to the glass growlers used as light shades in the outdoor patio area. A couple of couches facing a TV in one corner make it easy to imagine whiling away quite bit of time here.

Tapistry Brewing, Bridgman, MI

The menu is somewhat limited, mostly sandwiches, but what they do have is really, really good. We disagreed on their sweet, mustardy pickles that come along with the plates (I loved them), but there wasn't a dud in the bunch, and that's saying a lot. The kids were excited to order (and subsequently enjoyed) the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was really interesting and tasty, as was the basic grilled cheese. With names like the Brewben and Mushroom (my choice, so good), it's clear they have a sense of humor.

While the food was good, the beer may have been better - in any case, it really complemented the food. While their beer has some of the underlying Midwest sweetness that is typical of our region, their IPAs and Double IPAs ended on a serious bitter note, much appreciated by me. A wide variety of tastes means you'll probably find something you like. Go with a flight or two and taste a bunch.

We will definitely be back when we're in this neck of the woods and will actually drive a bit further to have lunch here. Good food, good beer, good service, what's not to like?

Tapistry Brewing

Tapistry Brewing Company Inc. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

ZIOBAFFA

Film. Surf. Italy. Wine.

Ziobaffa

With ZIOBAFFA, filmmaker Jason Baffa, surfer-environmentalist Chris Del Moro, and winemaker Piergiorgio Castellani focus on traditional and organic production, with a to-me unique reusable stopper, the Helix re-useable cork closure.

Baffa and Del Moro created a film, "Bella Vita," sharing their love of the surfing subculture, good food and drinks, friends, and family. From this collaboration,  ZIOBAFFA was born. The wine is bottled and labeled with eco-friendly material, crafted with a biodynamic focus and organically produced grapes - traditional materials with a modern focus.

Tasting Notes:
Filmmaker's Edition Pinot Grigio 2014: organically grown grapes; fermented in stainless steel; beautiful dark golden yellow; melon, lemon, and white floral aromas; blast of lemon flavor with underlying apricot, almond, and muskmelon flavors; Helix™ re-usable agglomerated cork closure; SRP $16. This might be my favorite white in recent memory, pure summer fun in a glass. Tasted with a kale and mango salad, worked against the vinegar and sweet tropical flavor perfectly.
Filmmaker's Edition Toscana Red 2012: organically grown estate harvested Sangiovese and Syrah grapes from the Poggio Al Casone Vineyard; low temp fermentation; no oak used; dark ruby color; dark berry, plum, cassis, and herb aromas; dark cherry, earth, tart red berries, and subtle herb flavors; medium bodied; Helix™ re-usable agglomerated cork closure; SRP $16. If you're not a believer of terroir, this wine might change your mind. Take a sip with your eyes closed and taste the sun-warmed soil in which the vines have their roots - tastes like what I imagine a lazy summer afternoon in Italy tastes like. Paired with a broccoli chicken Alfredo pasta - fruit popped and was a nice contrast to the fresh black pepper.
These have a lovely sense of place and one can well imagine drinking these while overlooking the vineyards from where the grapes were harvested - pop a bottle with friends or loved ones and let the good times roll.

Making of ZIOBAFFA™ Wine Video

Wine provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wine of the Week: La Promenade Rosé 2014

Not much information on the bottle or on the web, but this is a Côtes de Provence rosé from Badet Clément and Company. We picked it up at Trader Joe's and it's an easy drinking, dry rosé from Provence, one of our favorite places that makes it fun to drink pink - their attention to quality in that area means you're pretty much assured to get a good or better wine every time.

Wine of the Week: La Promenade Rosé 2014

Tasting Notes:
Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault grapes; fermentation in stainless steel; aged sur lie; vibrant orange pink color; melon, citrus and floral aromas; melon, tart cherry, star fruit, and citrus flavors; tart acid backbone; cork closure; SRP $9.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fiddlehead Restaurant, Michigan City, Indiana

We were headed to Michigan for a weekend of relaxation when my friend suggested we stop off at Fiddlehead Restaurant, a place he'd visited and wanted to go to again. I'm always up for new places, especially when they serve local food and local beer; that I can support every time.

Fiddlehead Restaurant, Michigan City, Indiana

Fiddlehead Restaurant "... will be a community-minded training hub for veterans, serving fresh and locally sourced food and drink..." That's a great description of this restaurant that sits in a community that should be thriving, being so close to Chicago, but is not. There are signs, however. A new craft brewery here, a more interesting restaurant there - things are changing for the better. The veteran training program at Fiddlehead — FERN or Fiddlehead Employment Response Network — is a growing network Fiddlehead has established with area businesses to promote individualized training, advancement and long-term employment for service men and women. What a great thing they are doing for those who have served.

While the building that Fiddlehead sits in is not the most attractive around, the patio area outside and the interior are attractively designed and comfortable places to sit while eating and drinking.

When they say local, they mean local; even their shrimp is from Indiana (yes, a shrimp farm in Indiana, who knew?). In fact, all their meat comes from producers in Indiana, as does some of their beer (I had a 3 Floyds Yum Yum Session Ale, for instance, which is probably brewed less than a half hour away).

We started with fried pierogies, which were light and tasty and will be ordered again next time. Mac 'n' Cheese for my son and it actually tasted like it was fresh-made and not of the box. I'm still waiting on the restaurant that feels like a veggie or two would be a good idea to put on kids' plates. Still waiting. My buddy's chicken salad sandwich was very good (his second time having it), while my burger (goat cheese, bacon, and fried onion topping) was fantastic.

Fiddlehead Restaurant, Michigan City, Indiana

It's a new restaurant and there are bound to be growing pains. I had to order 3 beers before I got to one that they actually had not run out of. My burger was supposed to have jalapeño jelly but didn't. However, the food was good, the beer was cold, service was spot on, and sitting in the sun on the patio felt great, so the minor mistakes were overlooked. Cut them some slack this first year, they'll get it.

Northern Indiana is slowly becoming a really good place to eat. Local food and beer are being served by restaurants such as this one, owned by someone from the community and serving that same community. This is worth a stop if you're in the area. Not too far from the beach, outlet mall, or casino (all big draws), stop in and have a sandwich (or more) and celebrate the folk who brought us this effort.

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Fiddlehead Restaurant

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wine of the Week: Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2013

No wimpy wines.

Another Trader Joe's grab, Ravenswood hearkens back to my early wine days, when this brand stood for quality Zins, not that they've moved away from that reputation or anything, but my experience has broadened considerably.

Wine of the Week: Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2013

Tasting Notes:
Previous years have had 75% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 6% Sirah and 3% Mixed Blacks; aged 10 - 14 months in 25 - 35% new French oak; pretty garnet color with ruby highlights; red berry, dark berry, oregano, and plum aromas; blueberry, cassis, rhubarb, and herbal flavors; medium mouthfeel and weight;  not a wimpy wine, but not a bruiser either; cork closure; SRP $9. 

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wine of the Week: Earthstone Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Picked up this Earthstone wine (bottled by Healdsburg Cellars) at our local Trader Joe's, figuring that, at $5, it was worth a shot. According to TJ's, the 2013 version of this wine comes from a "winery [that] is a very strong player in the Sonoma wine biz." Not savvy enough to know who that is, but this is not bad for the price.

Wine of the Week: Earthstone Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Tasting Notes:
Sustainably farmed vineyard and a carbon neutral winery; light yellow color; pear, muskmelon, and floral aromas; subtle citrus, melon, orchard fruit, and subtle tropical notes; slight acidic bite on the finish; not bad a sipper, but better with some goat cheese and crackers; twist-off closure; SRP $5.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wine of the Week: Santa Julia Innovac!ón Malbec-Syrah Rosé 2014

A member winery of the Familia ZuccardiSanta Julia is an Argentinian winery that works with grape varieties such as Malbec, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Pinot Grigio and Tempranillo. There is a focus on two types of sustainability: almost all of their vineyards are certified organic, which protects the productivity of the soil long term; they also look at it in relation to the community, supporting economic and cultural development in Mendoza. In the case of the rosé, it's also a vegan friendly wine. We picked this up at one of our local Whole Foods stores.

Wine of the Week: Santa Julia Innovac!ón Malbec-Syrah Rosé 2014

Tasting Notes:
Handpicked 50% Malbec, 50% Syrah; beautiful bright coral red color; red berry, subtle citrus and cassis aromas; tart red berry, melon, cassis into a citrus finish; 10,000 cases produced; cork closure; SRP $10 (liter bottle).
Nice hefty, dry rosé that was particularly good with food - it has a depth and meatiness to it that can stand up to bigger flavors. Since it's a bigger bottle you can enjoy more of it before having to open a new bottle.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Idaho Wines: Ste Chapelle Winery


Founded in 1975 in Emmett, Idaho, Ste. Chapelle, moved to Caldwell in 1978, and now produces wines from Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah from the Snake River Valley appellation. With a total production capacity of 150,000 cases, this is the leading winery in Idaho in both production and sales volume. Ste. Chapelle is named after the beautiful La Sainte Chapelle in Paris, built by King Louis IX as the court chapel during the 13th century and is part of Precept Wine, which is the largest privately owned wine company in the Northwest.


Idaho Wines: Sawtooth Winery

Tasting Notes:

Cabernet Sauvignon Snake River Valley 2012: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 5% Syrah; light ruby with red highlights; black currant, blackberry, black cherry, green olive and spice aromas; cedar, earth, black cherry and bell pepper flavors; medium mouthfeel into an austere finish; 1,540 cases produced; cork closure; SRP $12.
Gem State Red 2012: 59% Merlot, 41% Syrah; dark opaque ruby color with garnet edges; dark berry, earth, herb, and green pepper aromas; plum, tart red berry, oregano, and earthy flavors; pleasing mouthfeel into a slightly tannic and tart finish; 1,502 cases produced; cork closure; SRP $12.
Wines provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Idaho Wines: Sawtooth Winery

Formerly known as Pintler Cellars, Sawtooth Winery was founded in 1987 in Idaho’s Snake River Valley. Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, and Viognier are planted in two vineyards, Sawtooth and Skyline, totaling about 470 acres. Total production capability of the winery is 24,000 cases. Sawtooth is part of Precept Wine, which is the largest privately owned wine company in the Northwest.

Idaho Wines: Sawtooth Winery

Tasting Notes:
Snake River Valley Syrah 2012: estate grown Sawtooth Vineyard grapes; barrel fermented in 30% new French and American Oak; deep dark purple color with ruby edges; smoke, prune, and oregano aromas; earth, rhubarb, herb, and subtle cherry cola flavors; 1,000 cases produced; twist-off closure; SRP $16. 
Skyline Red 2012: 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 18% Petite Verdot, 4% Petite Sirah, 2% Malbec, 2% Syrah; deep ruby red with garnet edges; smoky plum, herb, and tar aromas; cassis, pomegranate, dark berry, and earthy flavors; smooth mouthfeel; well-balanced with good acidity; 2,231 cases produced; twist-off closure; SRP $15.
Riesling 2012: 98% Riesling and 2% Muscat Blanc estate grown grapes from the Sawtooth and Skyline Vineyards; aged 7 months in stainless; golden straw color; melon, white floral, tropical fruit and spice aromas; melon, yellow currant, honeyed stone fruit, and mineral flavors; a touch of sweetness is balanced with a tart finish and an acid backbone; 4,200 cases produced; twist-off closure; SRP $12.
Pinot Gris 2014: 99% Pinot Gris, 1% Muscat Blanc from the Sawtooth Vineyard; aged 7 months in stainless; extremely pale yellow in color; floral, lemon, and subtle orchard fruit aromas; melon, lemon, yellow currant, and mineral notes on the palate; soft mouthfeel with a nice touch of acidity; 1,200 cases produced; cork closure; SRP $20.
Wines provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Restaurant Review: DMK Burger Bar, Lombard

Sometimes you hear about a restaurant long before you actually make a visit. That was the case for us with the Lombard location of DMK Burger Bar. It's a place I've wanted to check out for a while, but it never quite worked out. This year, for Father's Day, it worked out.

After a year of searching the USA for a great burger, David Morton and Michael Kornick opened DMK Burger Bar. The focus was on serving 100% grass-fed beef patties (something we wholeheartedly endorse), along with other burgers, all paired with artisan buns. Philanthropically, DMK Burger Bar supports local charities benefiting hunger, wellness, children and the environment. Nice.

Restaurant Review: DMK Burger Bar, Lombard

So, Lombard. One of three current locations with a fourth forthcoming (at Navy Pier). At this location, close-in parking can be a bit difficult, though plenty of spaces are available if you just park a bit further away. A small patio sits at the front of the restaurant, though it was too warm for us to try that out. Neither a straight up bar or restaurant, this has a bit of a fast food chain feeling - the design is understated, with some highbrow elements and comfortable seating, with a decent overall feeling. Wide aisles and incredibly high ceilings make this place seem somewhat vast and add to the general noise level. A bathroom sign warns you that the floor is slippery and they were not joking. This almost feels like a work in progress, with finishing touches to come later. We'll see.

A variety of burgers are joined by options for salads and sides (everything is à la carte), as well as a decent beer list, with some local options included. Hopefully moving forward the local aspect will be played up more, though I can't fault them for what they're doing now.

Six people, three types of burgers (The Paleo - Grass-Fed Beef, Marinated Portobello 'Buns,'Arugula, Pistou; a #1: Aged Cheddar, Smoked Bacon, Charred Balsamic Red Onion, Rufus Teague's BBQ Sauce; and two basic cheeseburgers, along with mac 'n' cheese for the boys (Mac 'n' Cheese #1: Aged Cheddar, Parmesan Crust). We also added three varieties of fries (Parmesan with TruffleCream; Wisconsin Cheddar and Scallions; and Sweet Potato Fries with a Lemon Tabasco Aioli).

Restaurant Review: DMK Burger Bar, Lombard

As mentioned, each dish is à la carte - what was surprising was how it was served. Tasting sizes of the fries were ample for all of us (can't imagine getting the larger shared size) and on reasonably sized plates. The burgers were served on saucers, filling each plate - not sure who came up with that idea, but it just appeared wrong to me. I suppose with larger plates it would be more obvious that no garnishes or sides came with the burgers, but even a small salad plate would have been more attractive visually.

The food itself was great, with no complaints at all. The sweet potato fries were crispy, which is not an easy thing to do. Quantity of food was adequate, though it seemed like there was less than usual due to those small plates). The variety keeps things interesting, with plenty of choices available on a return visit - it would take a while to eat through this menu.

Restaurant Review: DMK Burger Bar, Lombard

The food and drinks (an order of wine, a tap beer, and four Blood Orange and Watermelon Housemade Sodas) came out to be $100, which is a lot for lunch. It's not an unfair price, as the quality of food and drink were very high. If they tweak the service (bigger plates please), add some garnishes, and rework the layout, this could become a regular place for us to visit.

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DMK Burger Bar

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Indiana Wines: Oliver Winery and Vineyards

Located in Bloomington, Indiana, and started in the 60s as a hobby, Oliver Winery now annual sales exceed 320,000 cases. Definitely more than a hobby. Sourcing grapes from a variety of growers, Creekbend Vineyard is Oliver Winery's commitment to the production of great wine from Indiana grown grapes. Oliver Winery sells almost 50 wines and ciders, made of vinifera and hybrid grapes and other fruit. Oliver sent us bottles of their Soft Wine series, three, semi-sweet Soft Wines that were the recipients of the 2014 Gold Consumer Wine Awards in Lodi, California and have earned 40 medals in the last three years.

Indiana Wines: Oliver Winery and Vineyards
Soft White: Niagara grapes; cold fermented in stainless steel; palest of yellow in color; white currant, star fruit, and subtle white flower aromas; citrus, muskmelon, white currant, and honey flavors; quite sweet, then some acid; agglomerated cork closure; SRP $7.50. If they dialed bak the sweetness on this, it would be a really nice wine.
Soft Rosé: Catawba grapes; cold fermented in stainless steel until dry; juice added provide sweetness; pretty dark salmon color; red currant, cranberry, and pomegranate aromas; sweet raspberry, red currant, rhubarb, and orchard fruit flavors;  agglomerated cork closure; SRP $7.50. Not as sweet as the Soft White, this would also be better with less sweetness.
Soft Red: Concord grapes; cold fermented in stainless steel tanks until dry; juice added provide sweetness; cranberry red color; grape juice aroma; grape juice flavor with just a touch of cranberryish bite;  agglomerated cork closure; SRP $7.50. This is, unfortunately, a one-dimensional wine; Concord is a tough grape because it always brings to mind Welch's grape juice. I've never tasted a Concord wine that got beyond that.
Indiana Wines: Oliver Winery and Vineyards

It's tough to make wine from these native grapes, without them being either musky or cloyingly sweet. These are well done  and would be improved, in my opinion, by vinifying out more of the sweetness or limiting the addition of juice after fermentation. One of the suggestions on the Oliver Winery website is to use these wines as mixers in wine cocktails. We chose to make sangrias with all three, and were pleasantly surprised at the positive results. All three wines made a good sangria, very refreshing as we were able to mitigate the sweetness with the fruit, rum, and ginger beer. We ended up mixing all three together to make a super sangria that was extremely tasty.

If you are a fan of sweet wines, these are a well-made version. If not, use them as mixers for good wine cocktails or feel comfortable gifting them to those that enjoy sweet wines. 

Indiana Wines: Oliver Winery and Vineyards

Daily wine tasting and weekend tours of the production facility and cellar are available, as are an assortment of gourmet picnic items, gifts and accessories. Creek bend Vineyard tours are by appointment only and are offered seasonally on a limited basis. We're looking forward to visiting the next time we head to southern Indiana.

Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Indiana Wines

Indiana Wines

As one of the closer states to us, it's a bit surprising that we haven't tasted more Indiana wines. Part of this was a disappointing early tasting and also many of the wineries are in the southern section of the state, making it difficult to easily swing by to visit. Things are changing however; Purdue University has stepped in to help both the wine and craft beer industries, and quality is on the upswing. According to Indiana Wines, the trade group,  the wine industry in Indiana nearly disappeared between Prohibition and the early 1970's. Two events helped revitalize the industry. The Small Winery Act of 1971 allowed wineries to sell directly to the public rather than through wholesalers. Also, in 1989, the General Assembly created the Indiana Wine Grape Council to support the growing industry. This helped the industry grow from 9 wineries to well more than 50 today.

As the industry has grown, wineries have banded together to promote themselves and make it easier for consumers to find them.  At least 5 wine trails have organized themselves and allow people to take regional tours: Cardinal Flight, Hoosier Wine, Indiana Uplands, Indiana, and  Indy.

Indiana Wines

Don't have time to drive around to visit the individual wineries? Head to Indianapolis for Vintage Indiana, an annual festival promoting Indiana wine and food. Indiana wineries offer samples of more than 200 wines along with food and live music. 

I'll be working on visiting some of these wineries and also getting some bottles to taste - time to check out our neighbor again.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

FLXWine Winechat

On May 27th, #winechat returned to the Finger Lakes to learn more about the region, discuss and taste wines from Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, and Heron Hill Winery. The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance sent out some samples for a virtual tasting of the region's wines as a special #winechat. They also included a very cool #FLXWine tee-shirt that is incredibly comfortable and in heavy rotation right now. The Finger Lakes region is producing some great wines right now - if you didn't know, this year's Wine Blogger Conference will be held there. Great wine, great food, great views and things to do - should be a fun time, sorry I have to miss it.

FLXWine Winechat

Tasting Notes:
Dr. Konstantin Frank Grüner Veltliner 2014:  citrus, green herb, stone fruit,  lots of acid and minerality; 457 cases; SRP $15.
Heron Hill Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2013: unfortunately, this was a corked bottle (or something else was off) and undrinkable.
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2013 Red Oak Riesling: Floral, smoke, and lemon aromas; stone fruit, citrus, and floral flavors; sweetness balanced by acid; cork closure; SRP $20.
Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Snooth: Lodi Presents

Snooth: Lodi Presents

Most virtual tastings are fun, Snooth and Lodi Wine both take it up a notch, so it was great to be invited to participate in a tasting with the both of them. Lodi Wine Country is one of California's major wine growing regions, located 100 miles east of San Francisco near the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta, and representing the region were Master Sommelier and friend of Snooth Tim Gaiser will be joined by Camron King, Executive Director, Lodi Winegrape Commission, and Kyle Lerner, Owner/Vineyard Manager, Harney Lane Winery. Here's video of the evening - enjoy!



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
Snooth: Lodi Presents Video

Tasting Notes:
Harney Lane Winery Old Vine Zinfandel Lizzy James Vineyard 2012: grapes sourced from the 111 year old vines in the Lizzy James Vineyard; aged 21 months in French oak; pretty purple color; dark berry, spice and wood notes on the nose; dark berries, cassis, and spice in the mouth; round mouthfeel and luxurious finish; cork closure; 449 cases produced; SRP $35.
McCay Cellars Viognier 2014: fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel; golden yellow in the glass; stone fruit, floral, and mineral notes on the nose; pear, stone fruit, and mineral flavors; great mouthfeel - luscious with acidity giving it pleasant bite; cork closure; SRP $24; 
Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wine of the Week: Nik Weis Urban Riesling 2014

Urban not as in city, but as in saint of the wine industry. Living in the 4th Century, Urban was the bishop of Langres and eventually canonized as a saint, being invoked against blight and alcoholism. Nik Weis has chosen Mosel Riesling grapes, some from his in-laws' vineyard, then oversees vinification in stainless steel. Beautiful example of a Mosel Riesling, simply made, but with lots of character.

Wine of the Week: Nik Weis Urban Riesling 2014

Tasting Notes:
Light straw color; floral, spice, lemon, and starfruit aromas; honeyed melon, lemon, spice, and tropical fruit flavors; extremely luscious, round mouthfeel; sweetness underlaid by a nice acidic backbone, then into a crisp finish; cork closure; SRP $14.
Wine provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

sommkit: Mise en Place for Wine

I've been helping beta test a new product, smoke, brought to market by the good folks at Protocol Wine Studio, who are also the hosts of the Twitter chat #WineStudio, among many other things. sommkit was created as a way to organize the many tools needed to open bottles and enjoy wine. There are currently two versions of sommkit: an original grey beta with sturdy leather additions and a second black beta which is an all vegan product (this is the one I received). The heavy waxed canvas, quality stitching and D-ring are the same for both versions.

sommkit: Mise en Place for Wine

Before sommkit, all of my corkscrews (and other wine openers), bottle stoppers, etc. have resided in a drawer, through which I have to search to find just the right tool for the bottle opened. Now there's one place to go to, with everything needed together. The material used is heavy and substantial, promising many more years of use, and feels good in the hand. An integrated flap covers the tools, then all are rolled up and secured with the attached string. A functional, well-designed, sleek, and, dare I say I it, sexy addition to anyone's wine obsession.

Now I'm no wine expert, though I play one on the Internet, but there is definitely a use for such a product if you have more than a passing seriousness about wine (and other spirits as well). Having all the tools needed to run a tasting with one's friends certainly allows for the experience to be appreciated a lot more.

Improvements: I would add another larger pocket in lieu of two smaller ones. Again, not as a wine pro, but as a serious consumer, I could see this being improved by conversion to an apron, keeping the same heavy fabric, simple design, but adding string (or the option) to the other end.

To purchase or to get more information, visit the sommkit website, Twitter, and Facebook.

This product was provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

¿Decopas? A glass?

Each day in Argentina, thousands of colleagues, family and friends turn to each other and ask: “¿Decopas?” Buenos Aires slang for “By the glass?” this joyous invitation signals the start of Happy Hour! Just in time for Spring weather and lighter fare came two sample bottles of Decopas Wines, the 2014 Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc.

¿Decopas? A glass?

Tasting Notes:
100% Malbec; cold macerated, then fermented in stainless steel; aged 4 months in stainless; deep violet color; red berry, spice, and subtle earth aromas, with the same on the palate; mild tannins and a touch of acidity make this a great food wine; twist-off closure; SRP $12.
100% Sauvignon Blanc, hand harvested; cold skin contact before fermentation in stainless followed by one month aging in stainless; straw gold in color; citrus, subtle tropical, and floral aromas; light melon, floral, touch of tropical, and floral flavors; twist-off closure, SRP $12.
Both of these wines go with a wide variety of foods and are able to stand up to a little bit of spice as well. These are not complicated, but rather fun and tasty wines, perfect for drinking outside on the deck or on a picnic. 

Wines provided for review purposes, all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wine of the Week: Holman Ranch 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

In the heart of the Carmel Valley, Holman Ranch Vineyards and Winery have their hands in a lot of projects: weddings, events, an olive grove, stables....oh, they also make some really great wines. Originally, the ranch was part of the lands bestowed to the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo. When the Mexican government secularized the mission lands, one of the first ranchers in Carmel Valley, Don Jose Manuel Boronda, was granted the Los Laureles Rancho—6,625 acres that included what is now Holman Ranch. In 1989, Dorothy McEwen planted the vineyards and created the ranch as it is known today, though the current owners, Thomas and Jarman Lowder, planted the olive groves. The estate wines of Holman Ranch include: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé of Pinot Noir.

Wine of the Week: Holman Ranch 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

Tasting Notes:
Estate grown Musque clone grapes; pale, almost not there yellow color; starfruit, talc, and white floral aromas; muskmelon, tart lemon and subtle mineral flavors; bracing acidity; a light bodied, refreshing wine; cork closure; SRP $19.

Holman Ranch Vineyards and Winery Video

This wine was received for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

#BeChildish Dinner at The Brass Monkey

Thematic restaurants can be a tough go, with a tightrope act needed to pay homage to the theme without being cloying and also appealing to current tastes and paradigms. Originally opened as The Brass Monkey (by Untitled Supper Club's owner Marc Bushala and chef Ryan Wombacher), the restaurant was '70s-inspired American and French, with menu items from both countries. Laima and I were invited to a media dinner there last week, tasting through the current iteration of parts of the menu.

#BeChildish Dinner at The Brass Monkey Brasserie

#BeChildish (as in Julia Child, not infantile) was the theme, with updated interpretations of classic American fare to be had, with some unusual twists to be sure. Making food from a decade where convenience was key and most ingredients came in a can, was no easy feat, but they definitely pulled it off. The decor is also more highbrow than low, though a trip to the bathrooms downstairs shows that the seedier aspect of the 70's is acknowledged, with a wall of Playboy covers featured and a darker atmosphere in general.  The soundtrack has some nods to the obvious hits, but it's mostly more obscure, with a colossal selection of songs in the restaurant soundtrack.

#BeChildish Dinner at The Brass Monkey Brasserie

For our dinner, appetizers were served family style on a side bar in the vinyl-themed private dining room, the collection of 70's albums a colorful counterpoint to the high ceilings, enormous windows, and interesting tile throughout. Seeing a bowl of wild boar meatballs, mini sliders on a plate, and other appetizers served this way brought me right back to my parents' parties of the time. While all the appetizers were tasty, my favorite had to be the Baloney Sliders (with pickles, melted fontina, caramelized onion, and garlic aioli), just a great way to kick off the meal.

#BeChildish Dinner at The Brass Monkey Brasserie

Tastes of available cocktails were served throughout the dinner, with playful interpretations the norm. With names like SoCal75, Tang (yes, the rim was crusted with a powder that evoked that classic astronaut drink), and Side Seat Driver, you know the team had some fun with these. One of my favorites, and perhaps the best named cocktail on the menu, was Chicago River Water, a tasty concoction that in its opaque, greenish-blue glory truly evoked our city's river.

#BeChildish Dinner at The Brass Monkey Brasserie

Entrées were served all at once, with diners taking tastes as they wished. The TV Dinner is an obvious choice and does not disappoint, though to me, the Amish Chicken (broccolini, roasted tomatoes, potatoes, lemon-truffle chicken jus, connection to the 70's unknown to me) was the highlight, tasting almost more Thai than Amish. Not a single entrée was left on the nearly empty plates, even though we all knew dessert was on the way.

#BeChildish Dinner at The Brass Monkey Brasserie

Not on the menu for the evening, but available as sides every day, were the Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Macaroni and Cheese, more goodness and definitely evoked my childhood, though Brussels Sprouts became an acquired taste later in my adulthood. These my kids would happily eat. The Macaroni and Cheese had everyone raving and, when chef Ryan told us that they use no flour in the sauce, amazed at the creaminess. Two sides definitely worth ordering.

#BeChildish Dinner at The Brass Monkey Brasserie

Something I've never understood is restaurants that don't take desserts seriously (if I owned a restaurant, a good pastry chef might be the first person I hired). Brass Monkey does not make that mistake however, with all four desserts offered updated and unique interpretations of these classics. Initially I thought the S'Mores might be my favorite, but ultimately the Bananas Foster Pudding, served parfait style (banana cream pie meets bananas foster. vanilla wafer crumble, banana pudding, Angel’s Envy Bourbon caramel, caramelized bananas) won me over, much to my surprise. I'm used to the classic method, with flames burning off the alcohol, but while more theatrical, it's not as tasty as this version.

Overall, I'd say I was surprised by the high level of detail that went into the decor of the restaurant, along with the food and drinks. What I really enjoyed was the subtlety and creativity shown when reinterpreting the food - most things were identifiable as their namesakes from the 70's, thought the fresh ingredients and twists on the recipes made them stand on their own. Slightly off Restaurant Row, this is an establishment worth veering off the beaten path for, it's that good.

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This dinner was provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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