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Archive for March, 2008

pres_vinadocampo.jpgThis is a white blend of Treixadura and Torrontes from Ribeiro.

The Spanish name for the Portuguese varietal Trajadura, Treixadura is most often found in the D.O. of Ribeiro in Galicia, in the northwestern corner of Spain. Treixadura is usually blended with one of the other many grapes that grow in this cool region famous for its crisp, dry whites, most notably the varietals Torrontes, Lado, Viura and Albariño.

Spanish Torrontes can be light and fragrant, with aromatics that are similar in style and weight to Muscat and Gewurtztraminer. Torrontes is also found in Argentina and Chile.

Light golden straw in color with an aromatic nose with some green apple and white flowers. On the palate, the wine shows finesse but pronounced apple components and softer notes of grapefruit, white peaches and lychee — and a hint of almond and sea salt. Very crisp, medium body and a little bit of butter and creaminess — good minerality, balance, acidity with a clean finish.

This is a very food friendly wine (also only 12 percent alcohol) and would pair very well with simply prepared light seafood dishes or spring dishes — heirloom tomato salad or a vegetable risotto.

A great value at $13-14 dollars.

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img_1875ps.jpgThis was the food highlight from my last trip to Chicago. This was the best Chinese food I have had in a long time — authentic, delicious and unpretentious.

My experience was outstanding and I will remember eating here for a long time — and dream of returning. I would be a regular here if I lived in the area.

Their menu is extensive and I would love to try many of their other dishes — I have no doubt that it only gets better once you get to know the menu. The food was very flavorful, very well prepared and generally quite spicy as well.

This is a popular place — and it can get very busy and you might need to wait, but your patience will be rewarded.

chilichicken.jpgPrices were very reasonable and portions were generous. Service was friendly and efficient. A beer would have been nice with dinner, especially given the heat of many of the dishes — but they don’t have a liquor license — at least upstairs.

Our dinner included the following:

  • Salt & Pepper Scallop: Perfectly cooked, very flavorful. Delicious.
  • Chicken: Spicy, perfectly prepared, delicious and very memorable.
  • Pea Shoots with Garlic: Outstanding — very fresh and perfectly cooked — nice flavor with lots of garlic.
  • Dan Dan Noodles — hot and spicy — as well as delicious!
  • Special Hot and Sour Soup — vegetarian — spicy, chili oil, fresh vegetables, tofu and herbs. Delicious.
  • Lamb with Cumin: Good –but not nearly as good as the Lamb with Cumin at Hong Kong Palace in VA (so at least I can find solace in that I have one dish in DC that can compete with Lao Sze Chuan).

Hope to return. Must return. Strongly recommended.

Lao Sze Chuan
2172 S. Archer Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 326-5040

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davidcraig.jpgRemember when Pesce was really good? The Tabard Inn? It was David Craig’s magic touch. Now he has opened his own place in Bethesda — and I must say it can be a bit uneven, but it is wonderful when it hits the mark.

It would be difficult for me to name a restaurant that makes better soup. Mushroom soup with some little chanterelles and croutons — so soothing, comforting and delicious. His Butternut Squash soup is the most unique and wonderful butternut squash soup I have ever had. The soup was very rich, but not heavy. Infused with some creme fraiche and some small pieces of apple and walnuts. Stunning.

Homemade and hand cut pastas can be a bit uneven — though the noodles are always delicious and perfectly cooked. I really enjoyed the asparagus, wild mushrooms, cream and parmigiano reggiano — very rich and satisfying. The Carbonara style noodles with pecorino, cream and either pancetta or bacon — was extremely salty. Gulf shrimp with garlic, chili, white wine, and parsley, suffered from too much Tomato paste.

David Craig is known for seafood — and the seared tuna from my last trip was delicious — as was the chocolate bread pudding dessert with caramel sauce.

Will return.

David Craig
4924 Saint Elmo Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 657-2484

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lf_ce04gsm.jpgThe 2004 Envoy GSM is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Shiraz, and 20% Mourvedre. Cherry, dark fruit, a little cola and pepper on the nose. On the palate, seems to lack fruit and a bit hollow — with a little too much candy and syrup for my tastes.

Listed at 14.5% alcohol — hot on the nose and palate and just not very well integrated.

Colonial Estate changed importers, so I was able to buy some of their wines at half price — this wine retails at $30. Even at $15 a bottle, I would give this wine a pass.

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Ridge SCM 2005 ChardonnayPre-sale spring releases are now available, including the 2006 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay. The 2005 was the #2 wine of the year on last year’s top 100 list from Wine Spectator.

Probably best to order now if interested. You can order online at the Ridge online store.

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Gulfi is a a relatively new producer of organic wines — their wines aren’t widely available but worth seeking out. They were established in 1996 and current production is about 20,000 cases.

Carricante is a white variety native to Mount Etna and in a very small quantity in eastern Sicily. The name was supposedly given by viticulturists of Viagrande (Catania) who selected it several hundred years ago. This vine falls into the category of recognized “Etna Whites.” Its cultivation is widespread in the region of Etna where yields are greatest, with only a small quantity cultivated alongside other varieties in the provinces of Caltagirone and Ragusa.

Beautiful golden straw in color. Not extremely forward or exotic on the aromatics — a bit subdued on the nose. On the palate, this wine shows beautiful grapefruit and citrus, apple components with some butter and almonds. Really nice minerality with great weight, balance and acidity with a crisp finish.

This is a good value at about $18 a bottle — and just a very enjoyable, food friendly wine. Recommended.

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dsc01099.jpgTyler Cowen recently wrote that this was the second best restaurant right now in DC (He ranks CityZen as numero uno) — and a couple of friends have really enjoyed it — so I thought it was worth checking out.The menu online looked amazing. So I have to admit that I was a little disappointed to learn that the actual menu does not include all of the items included on the website.Our meal included the following:
  • The complimentary Szechuan Green Beans — served cold, quite good.
  • Tiny Dumplings of Pork Belly with Black Vinegar — the black vinegar was a bit much, but still very good/excellent.
  • Scallop & Shrimp Sui Mai — I must confess that I am not a huge Sui Mai fan, these were very good (but didn’t change my opinion on Sui Mai).
  • “Wok Fried” Whole Sea Bass, Yuzu Ponzu or Spicy Thai-Chili & Fragrant Herbs — they do filet it table side — it was excellent, but really would have been enhanced if it was served with a little Asian cucumber salad or something. A whole fish with nothing else just gets a bit tired by the end — it could have used some crunch or a complimentary flavor — just a little something would have really made this memorable.
  • Kobe Short Ribs, Slow Cooked, Indian Spices, Masoor Dal — good, but a little bit too much going on.
S1199304506_1.jpgtaff were friendly and seemed genuine, service was good but not without some lapses. I like the space — nice atmosphere, but the noise from downstairs lounge certainly does make its way to the dining room.

Decent selection of wines by the glass — and not sure if it was that they initially forgot to bring me my wine, but was a generous pour (about 5.5 ounces).

I would return, though it is certainly not a great value — and at these prices there would be other restaurants ahead on my list — but certainly worth a visit. I don’t think it is fair to judge where this fits in terms of the best restaurants in DC after a single visit, it is certainly a good addition to DC’s food scene, but I don’t think I would rank it as the second best in the city. The next trip I might be inclined to opt for a couple of drinks and the small plates downstairs.

The Source
575 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 637-6100

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