August 30, 2009

A Return to Parker's on Ponce

Headed back to Parker's on Ponce with friends Saturday night. As I said in my last review, I was wating for Parker's to step things up a bit. Saturday night, they did just that.
After beers and cucumber coolers at Leon's, we headed to Parker's for our 7:30 reservation. There was a healthy crowd for a Sat night; patio was packed, and nearly all the tables inside were as well.
We started with the cheese plate, a nice collection of roqufort, smoked gouda and cheddar with cranberries and crackers as well as a house salad, and the calamari, which seems to make it to our table everytime we visit Parker's. The calamari is really tasty, nice and crispy with silky cannelini beans and a sweet onion aioli.
I ordered the ribeye, which was cooked perfectly to medium-rare this time. Seared perfectgly on the outside with a nice touch of salty goodness. Had the the absolutley decadent truffle mac and cheese on the side. That stuff should be illegal.
The table also had the lamb lollipops and crab cakes, all of which were spot on Sat. night. Nice job Parker's.
Parkers on Ponce on Urbanspoon

August 27, 2009

Iberian Pig-Decatur, GA--New Menu Online

Just a quick post to throw out that the Iberian Pig menu is now posted on the website. Iberian Pig is moving into the space that Sage on Syracmore occupied for the past 10 years.

Menu looks great; it's huge, too, with charcuterie, numerous small plates, flatbreads, as well as entrees. I like the sound of many of the tapas including the Huevos con Trufa – Rustic bread, slow roasted pork, poached egg, black truffles -yes, I'll take two, please. The restaurant is also committed to several green initiatives including composting leftovers with Whole Foods, and coversion of cooking oils to biofuels. Kudos!

Soft opening coming soon. Should be ready for my first visit in September! Yeah! PIG!

August 20, 2009

2007 Cotes du Rhones-Killer Everyday Wines

As I said in a post back in June, 2007 was a great year for red wines in the southern Rhone valley. Even low-priced entry level CdRs are popping. I drank another 2007 Cotes du Rhone tonight, the Delas Freres Saint Espirit. It was actually one of the less interesting '07 CdRs I've had, but still worth it's $10 asking price.
Instead of just a note on the Freres, I've decided to do a recap post on the CdRs I've had this summer that are in market now.

2007 Domaine La Garrigue Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine
Purple in the glass. Nose of smoked meat, forest. Black fruit that is laser-like on the palate, there is also white pepper and game notes. Chewy finish. Stunning $14-$15 bottle of wine. Was at Whole Foods Ponce for a while.

2007 Domaine Grand Bois Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Tres Bois

$15 on sale at Ansley Wine Merchants. Worth every penny. Delicious red fruit and peppery finish without a lot of oak.

2007 Delas Freres Cotes du Ventoux

I don't usually shop for wine at Whole Foods, their prices are usually pretty wack. But... every once in a while their sales offer some deals. This '07 Rhone blend from Freres is a nice buy at $11.99 at Whole Foods Ponce. Nice dark fruit and meaty essences. Drinking over the next few years.

2007 Domaine D-Andezon Cotes Du Rhone

D'Andezon is 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache from 60 year-old vines. Cherry and blackberry on the palate amidst scents of herbs, licorice and cocoa notes. For drinking over the next few years. Another stellar value for $10 at Tower on Piedmont.

2007 Delas Freres Cotes du Rhone Saint-Espirit
The Freres Espirit is one of the weaker of the '07s I've tried. I'm not convinced it doesn't just need a little time to round out. Slightly heavy on up-front fruit, but the mid-palate is rather hollow. There's also a bitter-saline note to the finish. For the price, it's not necessarily a bad buy for casual popping, but you can do much better in 2007. $10 at Greene's on Buford Hwy.

August 16, 2009

Another Shot at The French Laundry Cookbook

So, this weekend I dove back into The French Laundry cookbook. It had been a month or so since I chased Thomas Keller's genius; you may remember Lobster Mac and Cheese, and the French Laundry menu meals.

Tonight, I went after Keller's Olive Oil Poached Salmon over Confit of Navel Oranges and Pea Shoot Coulis. This dish was surprisingly difficult, there were little details (getting a smooth pea shoot coulis and poaching in olive oil), that almost broke me. In the end, though, this dish was off-the-flipping-charts good. It was summer on a plate. The combination of textures was unreal. Yum-o.

A little confit of navel oranges. Translation: navel orange segments "set" in a simple syrup. Yep. That's it.
The pea shoot coulis was tough; mine came out a bit too chunky. Tasty, but not the buttery viscous concoction Keller can render.
The final product; topped with chopped chives and whitefish caviar. The intricate play of flavor and texture was just crazy. Oil-poached salmon has a heavenly texture that melted in the mouth with the sweet oranges and slightly peppery coulis.
Wow. I'll make this again.

The wine: 2005 Arcadian Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow. Not cheap, $40 from Arcadian, but worth every penny.

2005 Arcadian Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands (8/16/2009)This wine manages to balance the hints of oak and buttery goodness with a bracing acidity that really sharpens the edges. Buttered popcorn and honey up front give way to slate and a long, lively finish. Just a pleasure really. I'm going to try, try to not touch anymore for a year so. yeah, right.

August 13, 2009

2007 Southern Rhones-A Parade of Killer Wines, Many at Killer Prices.

Yet another wine worth talking about from the remarkable 2007 vintage in the southern Rhone valley. I wrote previously about the 2007 Delas Freres Cotes du Ventoux and the killer 2007 Grand Bois CdR Trois Soeurs. You don't have to believe me, though, Robert Parker continues to sing the praises of 2007 southern Rhones here.

Last night I popped the 2007 Chateau Pesquie Cotes du Ventoux Terrasses
It's a rhone blend 70% Grenache/30% Syrah. The wine features a dark purple color, a nose that is tarry and meaty, and a blast of pepper from the grenache on the palate. It's lighter bodied, and there's not a ton of fruit. If you like sappy fruit, look elsewhere. It's a great at $11 at Ansley Wine Merchants in midtown. Would work with a nice roast chicken, grilled steak even, or bbq.

August 10, 2009

The Best California Wines You're Not Drinking--Edmunds St. John

I decided to post about one of my favorite wineries after enjoying another stunning $15 botttle wine from them this past weekend. I hesitate to post, I don't actually want to turn you on to them and jeopardize my ability to get more.

Edmunds St John wines are the brainchild of Steve Edmunds, who started the winery with his wife, Cornelia St. John in 1985. Steve's wines are brilliant examples of, in Steve words, a place and a time. They are decidedly old-world wines, they speak of the earth, the best grapes, and non-interventionist winemaking. Many of Steve's red wines, like the Syrahs from Durrell and Wylie-Fenaughty Vineyards, are built for the long haul, often rewarding drinkers after 12-15 years of cellaring. A 2000 Wylie-Fenaughty opened this spring is just starting to strut its stuff.

This weekend I opened a 2005 Edmunds St. John Rocks and Gravel, a red rhone blend composed of Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre. It's a fantastic bottle of wine for the $16 I paid for it. Full of smoke and meat, pure red and blue fruit, with slate and spice. If I had to drink only this wine for the rest of my life I could probably be happy. That about says it all. I didn't see God, I didn't shit my pants, I just drank a damn good $15 bottle of wine!

You need to poke around for Steve's wine, he has limited distribution, and as a nearly one-man operation, a rather byzantine website. Nonetheless, ESJ wines are readily available and highly recommended.

A quote from Steve:

As a winemaker, I've deliberately chosen not to court the market, i.e., the commercial context out of which so much modern wine is being formulated. Our wines may or may not receive the highest numerical ratings bestowed by the most popular wine journals. At the moment when the wine is in the glass, and the glass is placed before the taster, the numbers are meaningless; if I can offer someone a wine that is thrilling to smell, that is unforgettable to taste, that taster, being only human, cannot help but respond. If that response is forthcoming, I will have done my job.

August 6, 2009

Rosebud Atlanta--Jerry Garcia Dinner 8/5/09

Went to the fourth annual Jerry Garcia dinner at Rosebud (the old Food 101) in Atlanta last night. I share an Aug 5th b-day with a good friend and fellow deadhead, so we convened with wives and another couple for the eve.

Exec. Chef/Owner Ron Eyester has been on the Atl food scene for a while (at Food 101) and he cranks out serious Southern-leaning comfort food with a focus on local/seasonal products. He's also a huge deadhead. Each year around Jerry's b-day and death date (first week of August) he puts on a Jerry-themed dinner. Last year, the menu was based on lot food, those tasty treats we used to scarf up, often wearily, in the parking lot after a show.

This year, each of the five courses was based off a Grateful Dead song. The food was really good, not mindblowing, but rich, comforting and tasty.

Dead tunes were playing throughout the restaurant all night and Ron stopped by each table to tell Dead show tales and commiserate. Twas a good time.

The festive menu

There was also an Amuse of small squares of Kind Grilled Cheese, which was just for laughs really.

Mexicali Blues--Smoked Cheddar and Chorizo Queso with Housemade Chips-This was just silly good, not sophisticated in the least, just a bowl of cheesy goodness served with barbecue chips for dipping.

BirdSong--Grilled Chicken Risotto with Local Sweet Corn and Fresh Chives-This dish was tasty, risotto full of creamy/cheesy goodness. The corn adding a nice sweet crunch to each bite.

Catfish John--Crispy Georgia Catfish w/ Local Grits & Bacon-Tomato Preserves. I mentioned earlier that Ron's food is Southern comfort food. At this point, it was become quite obvious as this was the third dish in a row that was teming with cheesy/creamy goodness. Honeslty, it was a bit much. Catfish was nice enough, and the grits were tasty, but the dish was a tad heavy and we were approaching cream and cheese overload. There was bacon too.

Row Jimmy--Braised Rabbit Ravioli w/ Charred Sweet Onions and Cherry Jus-This was a real nice dish that paired well with the 2007 Sineann Pinot. The rabbit was tender and succulent, the cherry jus adding just the right touch of sweetness on the finish. Probably the dish of the night.

Cream Puff War--Profiteroles w/ Rice Krispy Ice Cream & Peanut Butter Drizzle-Ever make a cream puff, stuff it with crispy-coated ice cream, and drizzle it with a rich decadent peanut butter sauce? This was decadent. Really.

Drank an always nice 2007 Navarro Gewurtzraminer, 2006 Kutch Pinot Noir (which was not showing so well), a 2005 McHenry Pinot Noir Estate (killer) a a very nice 2007 Sineann Pinot Wyeast (damn near stole the show and is available at Ansley Wine Merchants).

Great night. Good vibes, good food, good people. Will be returning next year for sure.

Rosebud on Urbanspoon

August 3, 2009

RA Sushi Atlanta

Stopped by RA Sushi (1080 Peachtree St) for dinner on Sunday night.

RA Sushi
is not a traditional sushi house cranking out delicate sushi and sashimi. Think of RA Sushi as a sushi joint on steroids. It's a rather cavernous space, and its all Asian-modded-out with its red and black decor.

The service Sun night was impeccable, though it probably should have been as there was an army of waitstaff patrolling the place.

The Mango Martini was fresh and refreshing with tasty salted edamame.

After drinks and snacking on the edamame, we started with a few of RA's "special" rolls.

The Crispy Spicy Tuna was interesting. It was crispy, it was spicy, but I lost the tuna in all that was going on. The fried sesame balls were dense and felt over-fried, the fry flavor overpowering everything else and masking any sense of tuna-ness.

The Smoked Salmon Roll topped with mango slices tasted like a buttercream birthday cake with a smoked cream cheese frosting. RA does like cream cheese, it made its way into the lobster rolls as well. We also had their heralded Viva Las Vegas roll. It was tasty, perhaps more so than the salmon, but it too suffered from a smothering of cream cheese, tempura batter, spicy tuna, crab mix, lotus root, eel sauce, and spinach tempura flakes.
I didn't just make that up.

The highlight dish for us, Chili Ponzu Yellowtail, was, not coincidentally, the most traditional sushi dish we ordered. Thinly sliced yellowtail, jalapeno, cilantro, with cashews, chili ponzu and shredded daikon. The yellowtail was fresh and delicate and the spicy sauce played nicely with the crunch of daikon and cashew.

Overall, I think RA Sushi does several things well, the Yellowtail was delicious, and the Mango Lobster Rolls were a hit, too. The drinks and service were also on the spot.

When I return, I think I'll avoid the special rolls and stick with the sashimi and sushi.

RA Sushi on Urbanspoon