Thursday, November 12, 2009

When in Rome Restaurant - Annual Harvest Wine Dinner

I went to the Annual Harvest Wine Dinner at "When in Rome" tonight with Chad, Aimee and two of her friends. An Italian wine expert from Argentina informed us about the wines served along with each course. It was a good atmosphere with over twenty people around the long U shaped table. The last time I had a five course meal this good was at Joël Robuchon's restaurant in Las Vegas last year.

Annual Harvest Wine Dinner at When in Rome
Course 1
Hazelnut Profiteroles with Blue Cheese Mousse
Wine Pairing – Piper-Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne

These were amazing, I could eaten thirty of them. Normally I'm not much a fan of champagne, but this was very good.

Course 2
Salad of Mixed Greens, Golden Raisins, Smoked Duck Breast, Red Wine Vinegar Gastrique
Wine Pairing - Merlot, Lazio, Falesco, 2005

My only experience with duck has been in Beijing which I did not like at all. The tender slices of duck in this salad was completely different and I enjoyed it.

Course 3
Butternut Squash Ravioli, Brown Butter, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Fried Sage Leaves
Wine Pairing - Decadent Blend from Ornellaia, Le Volte, 2007

The most delicious course with my favorite wine of the night. The buttery raviolis tasted almost like a dessert at the center of the meal and the wine had a nice fruitiness which I prefer.

Course 4
Roasted Wild Boar Tenderloin with Fig and Red Wine Compote
Wine Pairing – A Marriage between Sangiovese and Merlot Luce, 2005

I thought this was the best pairing of the night. The earthy wine matched well with the Wild Boar. I had been worried about how this dish might taste before the dinner but I really liked it.

Course 5
Honey and Pinenut Tart, with Vanilla Gelato and Balsamic Vinegar
Wine Pairing - Pomelo Rosso Dolce, Falesco, 2006

This dessert wine was too sweet by itself, but great with the tart and gelato. After a couple bites I avoided the drops of balsamic vinegar along the sides of the plate. It was an interesting mix of flavors, but I thought the vinegar clashed against the sweetness in the desert. It was just me though, everyone else loved it.

Honey and Pinenut Tart with Vanilla Gelato and Balsamic Vinegar
Every Italian restaurant serves bread but I have never had the tomato sauce that was served along with it. The sauce was a mix of the ingredients normally on top of Bruschetta, which I love. I think I ended up having over six pieces of the bread.

I watch Top Chef all the time and I felt like I experienced one of the dinners on the show. Very Fun!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween in the Gaslamp Quarter

All dressed up for Halloween at work on Friday
I got to wear my costume for two days this Halloween. A bunch of us dressed up a day early at work and I went down to the Gaslamp Quarter with Doug and Louise on Saturday night. Before heading down on Saturday, I went for a another 24 mile bike ride to Torrey Pines. I've been biking there every weekend for the last month and I have seen a big improvement. This time, I was able to reach the top of Torrey Pines without having to drop down to my easiest gear.

It's Halloween in Cardiff-by-the-Sea!
Bridge along bike ride with Torrey Pines visible in the distance.
Cool tree at the top of Torrey Pines that overlooks Sorrento Valley.
We arrived downtown at the Gaslamp Quarter pretty early and stopped for a couple beers and bowled some games at the East Village Tavern. I was surprised I was able to bowl so well wearing my hockey helmet and shoulder pads. The streets were starting to fill up with cool costumes when we went for dinner at La Bocca. All the restaurants were wearing costumes but the best was the sushi bar where all the chefs wore prison outfits while the servers and hostesses had police uniforms.

Stick Bowling, A cool new sport?
Vega and Cammy from Streetfighter in the Gaslamp Quarter
The streets were packed after dinner and we joined the parade of costumes going up and down 5th Avenue. There was a great mix of clever, sexy and the profane. My favorite were two tall guys jogging down the street in 70's style basketball uniforms with Afros and headbands. I liked the topical costume I saw of the Balloon Boy, Falcon Heene, with a shiny balloon constructed of tin foil hovering overhead. Fun night!