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Bottle Shock

© 2008 Unclaimed Freight

Mike and I spend a good amount of time in Napa so we of course had to see Bottle Shock. When I saw the previews I was a bit worried that a movie about a 1976 wine tasting competition between the hippies of Napa and the wine snobs of France could get boring fast. Fortunately this was not the case. As it is not heavy on wine mumbo-jumbo those who are not fans of the grape juice will be able to enjoy the film, and those that are will love the film. Check it out before it leaves the theaters. See Mike’s more in-depth review here.

Film website: http://www.bottleshockthemovie.com/

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Joseph Phelps Insignia Blending Seminar

Mike’s kind of a wine connoisseur. Before we met my wine of choice was a glass of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill or Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel. Growing up in an alcohol free home I missed out on Wine 101. Over the years with Mike’s guidance my palate has changed. These days I find myself liking Red Blends, Cabs and Rieslings. Mike’s favorite winery in Napa is Joseph Phelps. He has been a preferred club member for over 15 years. Whenever we are in the valley tasting Phelps is always on our list because they have informative seminars, friendly staff, reasonable prices, a beautiful location, and most important fantastic wine.

On our latest visit we took the Insignia Blending Seminar which discusses the different elements that make up a bottle of Insignia. For those of you not familiar with Phelps wine, Insignia is its award winning proprietary red blend. The class started off with a tasting of 4 other Phelps wines: ’06 Viognier, ’05 Pinot, ’05 Syrah & ’05 Cab Sav. Then we moved on to the 5 wines that made up the 2004 Insignia. Once we tasted the components we were free to create our own blend of Insignia by mixing the various wines provided. We had lots of fun and wine…but my Insignia concoction didn’t compare to the original!

Tasty Tip: call ahead, all tastings/seminars require an appointment. If you are member pack a lunch and reserve a picnic table.

Website: http://www.jpvwines.com/

Le Papillon

For our 2 year wedding anniversary Mike and I dined at Le Papillon. Mike’s parents had given us a gift certificate for Xmas and we decided this would be the perfect occasion to use it. Le Papillon opened in 1977 and was one of the first fine dining French restaurants in Silicon Valley. As we were seated at our table the first thing I noticed was that the restaurant was unusually quiet. Although the room was half full you could hear a pin drop. I guess everyone was deeply enjoying their food. I whispered to Mike “Are we allowed to talk?” This would soon change…

The moment we ordered a well organized food parade began. Starting off with THREE Amuse bouches: first cheese and duck, second shrimp in a citrus vinaigrette and third a tomato gazpacho. Three blissful bites. Next came our starters. We chose to share the Pan Seared Maine Day Boat Scallops with Hazelnut Polenta and Preserved Lemon. It was simply fantastic. I then moved on to my Lobster Bisque with Sweet Corn Timbale and Mike dug into his Baby Lettuce Salad. When I have ordered this bisque at other establishments it’s always a light shade of pink this time it was a deep brown. It was super rich and flavorful. Hands down the best bisque I have ever had.

For our main courses we both chose fish. We attempted to keep things light because we knew we were having dessert. I chose the Braised Sturgeon and Mike the Grilled Turbot. Again, both dishes were magnifique. Cooked and presented perfectly. Then came our two beautiful desserts. The Souffl√© Grand Marnier with Fresh Berries and the Banana and Chocolate Torte (pass up a banana dessert–no way!) We r-e-a-l-l-y over ate.

The food and service was superb. The only negative for the evening came at 7:30pm when a large family arrived with two kids under age 4. This was a recipe for disaster. The tykes were tired and restless. They spent the night running around the table, clanging dishes and whining. I don’t hold the restaurant responsible for the unruly children but instead of a sign at the front door that says “No cell Phones” maybe it should say “No children under 8”. I like kids but when you are paying $140 per person you don’t expect to view an episode of romper room.

That aside, Le Papillon was an extraordinary eating experience and a grand way to celebrate two years of marriage. I’m sure we will be back for future anniversaries.

Note: Sorry for the lack of pictures but I took the night off…

Rating :

Website: http://www.lepapillon.com/

Le Papillon on Urbanspoon

Crimson

Crimson is hidden in the corner of a strip mall on Los Gatos Blvd. It’s really not a great location but worth the time to find. As soon as you walk in you will know why the restaurant is named Crimson. Inside it is covered head to toe in red decor. My favorite being the beautiful fresh red rose at each table. Crimson is a Green Certified restaurant serving ingredients direct from local farmers. We arrived on Tuesday July 8 for their weekly $30, 3-course prix fixe menu. We had heard about it over a year ago and we finally decided to go. After looking at the menu Mike and I ordered one of everything so we could try it all.

Prix Fixe Menu – July 8, 2008

The Starters
– Black Mission Fig and Charentais Melon Salad with Gorgonzola, Candied Walnuts, and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
– Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad, with Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Garden Basil and Lemon Oil
These both were wonderful. I especially liked the warm sweet figs. I’ve never had figs prepared like this before.
The Main Courses
– Herb and Dijon Mustard Marinated Prime Rib with Cabernet Au Jus and Garlic Mash
– Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon with Delta Asparagus, Jasmine Rice, and Organic Lemon Butter
Again, two delightful and hearty dishes. Just because this is a Prix fixe doesn’t mean small portions. We both had to get doggie bags. We never have to do that…

The Desserts
– Mixed Summer Berry Bread Pudding
– Chocolate Mousse with Fresh Berry Sauce
The mousse was silky and rich. The bread pudding was a little doughy — the only miss for the night. 5 out of 6 dishes were on point.

With the economy as it is it’s getting harder to justify all our lavish dinners out. This $30 Tuesday is one of the best deals in town!

Tasty Tip: don’t forget to fill out the form that comes with your bill to get on the weekly email list.

Crimson on Urbanspoon
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Fun Wine

While wandering around the Vintage Wine Merchant store at Santana Row Mike and I noticed a display of wines for under $10. The low price is not what caught our attention it was the labels on two of the bottles. One was called Bitch and the other Pure Evil. As we chuckled we then saw a sign that said Bitch, a Grenache, and Pure Evil, a Chardonnay, received 90 point ratings from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

For that price and rating we purchased a bottle of each. Turns out they didn’t taste half bad. Pick up a bottle or two if you know an Evil Bitch.

Both are produced by R Wines in Australia.

Cafe Beaujolais

Caf√© Beaujolais is a California French restaurant located in a restored Victorian Farmhouse. This would be the destination for our one dinner out in Mendocino with Mike’s cousin and wife. The restaurant has been a town staple since 1969.

We started the night with the following appetizers; seafood bisque, crab cakes and butter braised beets with micro greens. All were good but the award winning crab cakes seemed to get the most admiration. Our main courses included:

-Pan Roasted Quail, Organic Greens, Sparrow Lane Golden Balsamic Vinaigrette, Candied Walnuts, Cashews and Dried White Figs

-Pan Roasted California Sturgeon Fillet, House Made Tagliatelle, Truffle Emulsion Sauce, Wild Mushrooms, Beets and Snap Peas

-Salmon with Raspberry Chile Sauce, Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus

The boys had stellar remarks for the salmon special. The sturgeon also deserves some props. For dessert we ordered the Cherry Crisp with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, the Coconut Cream Pie and House Made Fruit Sorbets. Everything was delicious.

My only complaint was that the server wasn’t very knowledgeable about the entree ingredients or the wine we ordered. This is unusual in a small well established restaurant. Despite those minor setbacks we had a wonderful evening.

Shots of the Eats (click to enlarge):

Rating:

Website: http://www.cafebeaujolais.com/

Goldeneye Winery

If you ever travel through Anderson Valley make sure to stop at Goldeneye Winery for a tasting of their world class Pinots. Goldeneye is owned by the Duckhorn family so you know they produce some outstanding wines. While in Mendocino we decided to do a day of Pinot tasting and Goldeneye was our first stop. We had made a reservation to take their Estate tasting session which is a 45 minute semi-private tasting (8 people max) that discusses the winery’s history and production process¬†while tasting wines paired with a selection of cheeses, nuts and dried fruit. This was one of the best tastings I have been to.¬†Our host¬†was knowledgeable and friendly and the setting was breathtaking. At $20 per person this was a steal compared to Napa. You will find that many winery tastings in the Valley are low in cost or completely free.

Tasty Tip: Before you arrive pick up a picnic lunch and sit and enjoy the magnificent views of their vineyard.

Hours: open daily
11:00am – 4:00pm
Website: www.goldeneyewinery.com

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