Saturday, July 30, 2016

Celebrating California Olive Oil at Scopa (Venice, CA)

Did you know you can trust only 20% of the olive oils that you find in a supermarket?  There are a lot of fraudulent olive oils out in the market, so you have to know what you are buying. For example, you can go local and buy California olive oil. I recently attended a tasting and dinner with California Olive Ranch and tried their oils by themselves and in dishes prepared by Chef Antonia Lofaso at Scopa!

And a tip when buying olive oils in the supermarket: look for dark bottles, single country of origin, and seal of authenticity. Harvest date would be a plus, as well!

My evening started with some appetizers and cocktails, all of which feature California Olive Ranch olive oils!
Yes, the cocktail, too. The Sierra Norte was made with mezcal, aperol, serrano peppers, pineapple, and lemon, with California Olive Ranch Limited Reserve Olive Oil. The oil added a nice, unique mouthfeel to the drink.
CA Olive at Scopa
The first appetizer: Cured salmon, spring peas, toasted caraway, topped with the same olive oil as the cocktail.
Ricotta crostini
CA Olive at Scopa
Veal tartare, capers, shallots, fresh horseradish, seasoned with California Olive Ranch Mild & Buttery Olive Oil.
CA Olive at Scopa
California may be known for the almonds and wines and so on, but did you know that California also produces 95% of the olives grown in the US? There's about 27,000 acres of olive orchards in the state!

We tasted a couple of the California Olive Ranch olive oils (and a fake supermarket one!). You swirl and sip just like wine, but just like wine, olive oils can also go bad, so don't keep them in your pantry too long.
CA Olive at Scopa

Monday, July 25, 2016

Steak with a View at SER Steak + Spirits (Dallas, Texas)

Dinner is not just about the food. Dining out is an experience, and sometimes the view makes the experience. That is the case at SER Steak + Spirits in the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the food and the service are also solid, making your night admiring the Dallas skyline even more enjoyable.
SER Steak
SER Steak
I visited SER the evening before Valentine's Day, so I got to try the prix fixe menu they had for V-day. They had live music and dancing going on, as well.

The amuse bouche was a spoonful of bay scallops with truffles
SER Steak
I opted for wine instead of cocktails, that night, because how can I say no to some Louis Roederer Cristal champagne?
SER Steak
When I visited in February, SER has just gotten their new Executive Chef, Kevin Spencer, and the Valentine's Day menu really let him show off what he's about while he slowly changes the regular menu. I loved the second course of Kobe tataki, beech mushrooms, soy, avocado, pig ears, orange.
SER Steak

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Diplomatico Rum Tasting and Dinner at Barcelona Wine Bar (South End, Boston, MA)

I recently had the opportunity to taste the line of Diplomatico Rums at a tasting and dinner held at Barcelona Wine Bar in Boston's South End with Diplomatico's master distiller, Maestro Gilberto BriceƱo.
Diplomatico Rum @ Barcelona
Diplomatico was founded in 1959 and adhere to the traditional Venezuelan way of making rum. They have their own yeast strain for fermentation and use sugar cane molasses and honey from sugar cane for their rums. Diplomatico's distillation process differs from most Caribbean countries which use column distillation. Diplomatico uses column distillation for their light rum, copper pot (to get heavy alcohols), and batch kettle for medium alcohols. The copper pot tradition came about because Seagram's used to make whiskey in Venezuela.

Anyway, the rums. We tasted six different rums from Diplomatico.
Diplomatico Rum @ Barcelona

Diplomatico Anejo
This is their youngest product, which is aged up to 4 years and a mix of light and heavy alcohols (which they get from the different distillation processes). The rum itself has a hint of vanilla and with light sweetness. This rum is good for cocktails and a great value at about $15 a bottle!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Chinese BBQ, Cocktails, and More at Wu Er by WOW Barbecue (Brookline, Boston, MA)

First started as a truck serving Chinese BBQ skewers in Chinatown, Wow BBQ has a brick and mortar location in Malden and has recently expanded with Wu Er in Brookline. Unlike the truck, Wu Er serves a lot more than skewers.

When they get seated, each table gets a plate of fried mantou drizzled with condensed milk. Dessert first? Sort of, and why not?
Originally, Wow BBQ is all about the Chinese BBQ skewers, so of course, I had to get those here as well. The lamb is definitely one thing to get, but they also have all kinds of other options - both meat and vegetarian skewers.
Wu Er Wow BBW
While these are not for everyone, some of my favorite skewers are the chicken hearts and the lamb kidneys! I also tried the beef neck tendon, but that was too chewy even for me.
What I also particularly like about Wu Er is the cocktail program. It's pretty uncommon to have great cocktails at a Chinese or Asian restaurant, in general (although I have to say this is not particularly true in Boston, with Sichuan Garden II and Shojo and all). If you're ever curious about trying baiju, or cocktails made with baiju, Wu Er is a great place to try.

Moonlight over the Lotus Pond (Citadelle gin, lime, kaffir lime, jasmine tea, absinthe, egg white) - a nice sour with kaffir lime and jasmine, two of my favorite ingredients!
Wu Er Wow BBW

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Day of Wine and Spirit Tasting in Cape Cod with Truro Vineyards and South Hollow Spirits

When summer arrives, Cape Cod comes alive. With beautiful beaches, seafood shacks, and more, this New England coastal getaway draws massive amount of tourists each year. If you're planning a visit to the Cape this year, consider a visit to Truro Vineyards for a tour of their vineyard and distillery. This relatively off-the-beaten path destination offers a great day of wine and cocktail drinking with grape vines in the backdrop.
Actually, Truro Vineyards is not a completely hidden gem - it's a popular spot for bachelorette parties and other celebrations, and once you get there, you can easily see why. Day drinking at its best!
Truro Vineyards has been producing and tasting wines for a while, but there's a recent addition to the family: South Hollow Spirits. Started by the son, Dave Roberts, South Hollow Spirits is producing rum and gin that are definitely worth a taste. We actually started out with the spirits tasting first before moving on to wines. I have to say , I loved all three spirits.

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