Saturday, November 22, 2014

the wine begins to pour...

So, off we went to the first wine dinner of the season... when we are in Chicago we do our own wine dinners with wine from our cellar and/or other wine collecting friends.  However in Florida we make an effort to go to events like this so we can meet other like-minded wine folks. Michael's Wine Cellar is a lovely venue (this was our fourth time visiting there) and the food at each of the wine dinners has been wonderful.  Here was the menu we received via email the day before.

Robert Kacher Selections Wine Dinner
Robert Kacher Logo 
It's one of the most highly-anticipated wine dinners each year 

Michael, Chef Jamil and Chef Catherine have just completed the finishing touches on the extravagant menu for this special Robert Kacher Selections Wine Dinner featuring French wines from Bobby's prestigious portfolio at Michael's Wine Cellar.
Passed Hors d'Oeuvres
Blue Crab Fritters with Roasted Apples & Saffron Rouille
Fennel Spiced Duck Breast with Onion Jam
Sweet Potatoes Allumettes

Butter-Poached Oyster Shooter with Crispy Apple Wood Smoked Bacon & Salmon Caviar Hollandaise

Cremant d'Alsace, Domaine Ehrhart, FR, NV
First Course
Pan-Roasted Mote Sturgeon and Maine Lobster
Spiced Crawfish Bisque, White Truffle Pomm Puree
& Ruby Micro Greens
Chassagne-Montrachet "Virondot",
Domaine Mar Morey, FR, 2011

Second Course
Confit Of Veal Breast
Chanterelle Mushrooms, Roasted Butternut Squash,
Pearl Onion, Hashed Petits Pois, Burgundy Demi Glace
& Crispy Leeks
Givry 1er Cru "Clos de Cellier aux Moines",
Domaine Joblot, FR, 2010
Beaune 1er Cru "Cent-Vignes",
Albert Morot, Burgundy, FR, 2009
Third Course
Fig & Espresso Braised Kobe Short Ribs
Roasted Heirloom Carrots, Sautéed Rainbow Swiss Chard, Parsnip Puree & Chive au Jus
Gigondas, "Prestige des Hautes Garrigues",
Domaine Santa Duc, Rhone Valley, FR, 2011
Chateauneuf-du-Pape "Les Cailloux", Domaine Brunel, 2011
Trio of Desserts
Tarte Titan, Calvados Crème Brulee, Pistachio Macaron
Muscat Beaumes de Venise, Domaine de Beaumalric, FR, 2011

and here are some photos of the evening:

in the reception area of Michael's Cellar

in the cellar- where we dined on one long table - hostess Kim Jackson on the far right

the chargers are glass - a brilliant idea- that way you can read the menu through the glass (protect it, yet refer to it) - I am sorry to report that my dining partner distracted me during the first course (Beth, where are you when I need you?) so I have no photo of the very tasty lobster and sturgeon course.  After missing that I tried to pay closer attention when the courses arrived...LOL

the first course wines were both good but as is usual for me I found the Meursault too lemony (it was also a bit reduced) but the Chassagne was excellent - we have Marc Morey Chassagne in our cellar from older years and pretty much always find them winners.  Chassagne is my "go-to" white wine... I save the Corton Charlemagne for special guests LOL (most of the time- LOL)

the veal breast course - excellent  and here the wines were both showing well but I had a preference for the Beaune over the Givry - Phil felt the opposite.

the wine pairings for the short rib were Rhones, which I like better than Phil does, here I preferred the Chateauneuf-du-Pape

three wonderful desserts - with the winner being the creme brulee and the giant macaron coming in a close second- the wine was however not all that fabulous with a distracting spritz... preferring sauternes and TBAs of greater acidity, I didn't really expect to love it anyway...

on the right Terri Klauber and to her right Kim Jackson two of the hosts for the evening - seated between them but up handling details at this point of the meal was the eponymous Michael Klauber.  Michael did inform us that the Forks & Corks tickets had sold out for the Grand Tasting in two minutes this year... so we were thrilled we made it in under the wire - LOL

a lovely evening - Phil said on the way home that he thought this was the best meal yet at a wine dinner at Michael's.  I didn't disagree but have found them all pretty much flawless; that guy really knows how to run an event, he keeps his eye on all the details that help create a perfect evening.

I would love to see them sponsor a BYO dinner where the guests could have a menu prepared by Jamil (amazing food) and yet bring bottles of things from their own cellars to share with each other.  Not unlike the wines we had at last summers events at Yusho, EL Ideas , A10 and Oceanique to name a few...

like this-

or this- this and this-

since we are new to this wine scene, we hope to make more friends to share these kinds of moments with... because they certain make life that much more special....

Friday, November 21, 2014

got busy!

so we got busy and I have been neglecting the blog- so sorry... we did score Forks & Corks tickets (last year sold out in eight minutes) for CBGB and ourselves for January.  We have made rounds of favorite restaurants here in the first two weeks of our return, including Waterfront, Blue Marlin, Moore's, Cafe Baci, Casa di Pizza, Lobstah's (for blue cheese burgers) and of course Star Fish Company (our favorite dockside dive with fish right off the boat.)

below the view from our table at Moore's

the placemat from Lobstah's

BBQ sauce choices at Hickory Hollow

and yesterday we went on a pie tasting errand - with seven pies tasted and two more to go--- figuring out thanksgiving choices- so far our plans are to bake an apple and buy a key lime and pecan...

We also headed to Tampa last weekend to go to the Auto Show... where I looked at new car options and decided I liked my car better than anything they had it will be at least one more year before that decision point will come up again.  My cute little car has so much cargo capacity (57.3 cubic feet) and such great fuel economy, along with being a certified Low Emissions Vehicle, that it is hard to give up.  So I am definitely waiting a year before reconsidering a replacement.

GA's birthday celebration was the same night as the Auto Show visit so when we made quick work of that we headed to the new Epicurean Hotel for drinks on the rooftop bar Edge.  We watched the sunset before heading downstairs to Elevage for dinner with CBGB and GA's daughter Vicky and son-in-law Mike.  In the course of two short weeks we met both GA's mother and daughter! After a mere fifteen years or so of knowing her...LOL

The Elevage menu has a lot of potential but the I don't think the kitchen has really mastered the execution yet.  Phil and I both ordered the dry aged steaks medium rare and they came almost well done.  The rabbit rillettes were not really rillettes - rather than the meat being preserved in it's own fat as rillettes are, this was more of a mousse like preparation (very good but not rillettes.) But the evening was enhanced by the wines Chuck and Mike brought to share and the company was first rate!

note above the Epicurean Salad includes lobby herbs and greens - and below here they are growing in the lobby bar...LOL

as I said - good menu but the kitchen needs to kick it up a notch to match the aspirations of the menu- we didn't want for good wine though...LOL

Meanwhile, around the house I have been catching up on "projects" and installed a new shower head in Phil's shower,, worked unsuccessfully on a grill repair (service coming soon) and working on a "restoration" project for one of our paintings.

Then continuing the GA birthday celebrations we met CBGB in Orlando for the James Taylor concert on Tuesday night.  We had a nice dinner at Kres with wines to accompany the meal (a 1989 Pichon Baron and a 2002 Chassagne La Romanee from Girardin.) And then it was off to the show! An excellent concert - at 66 James Taylor still has the easy stage presence and remarkably unique voice he has built his long career upon.  A raconteur as well as an excellent guitar player - it is all rolled into one package with him.  He sang a few of his old standards and some new things and some fun blues along with a number of monster hits (Fire and Rain, You've Got a Friend...) An excellent show!!! We walked to and from our hotel - the Grand Bohemian (an upgrade from last time for the Sting/Paul Simon concert when we stayed at Aloft- yuck!) which made the trip easy and relaxing.

Now we are heading into the holiday week by starting with a wine dinner tonight- so more on that later. Then we have lunch with Lew & Ellie on Monday and Larry is coming up Thursday and the following week we are seeing Al & Carol, going to the Blues Festival and enjoying our six month vacation.  We did have a cold snap here this week when the overnight low hit the mid 40s (the same time Buffalo had eight feet+ of snow- so we don't complain) but tomorrow is supposed to be back up to 80*!

Kitties are settling in quite nicely and enjoying their winter home as well- while I have a bit of beach time and now that our cool weather is exiting for a while- will get back there again....

Penny's view from her lounge chair on the screened porch-

from my time at the beach

Since our December visitor canceled on us we probably won't have guests until January.  Unless someone takes pity on us and decided to come visit last minute- LOL... we love this time of year here- weather is good and the crowds of "season" people don't really arrive until February...  

here is a parting shot - our six month vacation is about to finish week three... and I know the time flies by... so time to stop and enjoy the blessing of our of lives - a perfect prelude to THANKSgiving!