Friday, May 27, 2011

Everyday wine in the city - Chateau St. Jean Merlot

Chateau St. Jean Merlot
For this week, we are tasting a 2008 California merlot by Chateau St. Jean. Years ago, I used to pronounce the Jean in St. Jean the French way as in Jean in Jean Valjean and not as jean as in jeans. One day, I was gently corrected by a wine connoisseur that Jean is truly pronounced as jean as in jeans because the name is American.

We opened this wine on Monday and finished it on Friday. I noticed that the wine tasted better a few days after we opened it. It must be the effect of aerating? On Friday, we paired it with manchego cheese and  locally produced herbed bread sticks, cilantro and basil dip, and pitted black olives.

Here are my notes.

Tasting Date: May 27, 2011.
Tasting Partner: Mijo
Wine Name: Chateau St. Jean
Producer: Chateau St. Jean
Region/Appelation: North Coast, Central Coast
Grape Varieties: Merlot
Vintage: 2008
Alcohol: 13%
Color Hue: red, purple
Aroma Intensity: fruity aroma
Developments: youthful
Aromas: cloves, cocoa, plum, coffee
Dry/Sweet: medium sweet
Body: Medium
Acidity: Smooth
Tannins: medium level, soft
Flavors: cocoa, cloves, lavender, plum, coffee

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Farmers Market in the City - Glen Park Farmers Market

Glen Park Farmers Market
Finally, Glen Park has its own farmers market. Though the farmers markets at the Ferry Building and the one in Noe Valley are within minutes from Glen Park, there is something better about getting our own neighborhood farmers market. Fresh produce, fresh flowers, freshly baked breads, locally made cheeses, honey, hand made soaps, dips and sauces just steps outside our door. When we got there this morning, there were not a lot of people. Since it just opened last sunday, I expect there will be more local shoppers in the coming weeks.

Snyders Honey
Though there are more variety and entertainment at the Ferry Building farmers market, it is notorious for being touristy. I have not shopped at the Noe Valley farmers market so I am not sure about the crowd and the selections there. I didn't see any signs of out of towners at Glen Park's this morning. At least, I was the only one totting a camera today (I was hiding it inside my shopping bag). We even ran into our good friend and neighbor Dave and his two cute kids.  I think this is the best place to meet and catch up with neighbors. 

So for Glen Park villagers, see you next sunday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Musical in the City - CATS

Cats in SF
Grizabella's voice is clear as bell. Though it was a short performance in the 1st Act of the show, Grizabella, the Glamour Cat sang Memory as if we were all in a dream. We were all in awe. For me, her scene is the highlight of Act 1, perhaps the entire show. Judging from the crowd's reaction and their applause, the people in the audience agree with me.

Cats at the Orpheum Theatre
Don't get me wrong. The cast delivered superb performance of high energy dance moves while belting high beautiful melodies. The Jellicle Cats were always in sync with their movements. It is just that the entire show is just too trippy for me. It was so different from the other Broadway shows I'm used to seeing. I totally wasnt ready for the space ship (or was it really a flying saucer?), the jellicle cats, the stobe lights and the smoke, the trippy melodies. Maybe psychedelic is the right word? 

I just had to see it, I guess. Ok, done, check. I've seen Cats. :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Crowded restaurants in the City

For two fridays in a row, we went to restaurants that are too crowded so we ended up sitting by the counter. I realized that sitting there was not bad after all because you get to see the chef in action and where mijo and I can sit casually as if we are just there for drinks. Here are my comments for Mr. Pollo in the city's Mission District and Incanto in the Noe Valley side of the city.

Mr Pollo
Mr Pollo by the barA week ago on Friday, we went to Mr. Pollo to check out what the rave is all about this place. We've heard about this place being tiny but we didn't know it was really small. The restaurant only has four tables though I think only three can really fit. The interior of the restaurant is what I would call unassuming and unpretentious. I noticed that groups of people kept coming and going and they just leave their phone numbers to the host. If people are patient enough to wait for a table, surely, the food must be very good. When the host made a signal that we can sit by the counter, we accepted his offer because we didn't want to wait for an hour and half. We decided to try the chef's tasting menu consisting of four courses of lamb, pork chop, steak, soup and salad. A lot goes into each dish - the ingredients, spices and special sauces where the names escaped me. The one that I remember had this meaty, lemon, thyme, lavender and cumin flavors into one. They were all delicious and at the same time the presentation was impressive. It is something that you will see being served in expensive restaurants. We must have used around 30 plates by the time we finished dinner.  I give this place a thumbs up.

Octopus Salad at Incanto
On Friday, we went to Incanto on Church St. We had reserved a table for 9 o'clock but since we were too hungry to wait that long, we decided to go to the restaurant early. The hostess told us we can sit by the bar. By the bar, we witnessed chef Cosentino in action. He is better looking in person now that he no longer sport his grungy hairstyle. He would smile and made short talks once in a while. At one point, mijo asked him to get our orders. I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no!!! That is a famous chef you are talking to!  As expected, mijo got a superstar chef attitude. I guess that is normal when one is a known chef who has been on several food shows? Or maybe he is just stressed out because of the Friday evening rush hour? Honestly, I don't care if he is arrogant in real life. The food that he serves are bursting with flavors and perfectly cooked. We took the server's advice and got the octopus salad, the bruschetta with spreadable salumi, the spaghettini with tuna heart flakes and two glasses of Il Molino di Grace. I was told that they're the only one in the country serving this spreadable salumi. They were all great. Would it have been better had the chef been friendly? Maybe. In my opinion, the food, wine and mijo are the ones that matter.  Will we come back next time? Of course. But we'll most likely not sit on the counter next time to prevent innocent mistakes like the one mijo just made. :)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Concert in the City - Ricky Martin's Musica+Alma+Sexo tour

Ricky Martin in ConcertMijo scored promotional tickets to Ricky Martin's Musica+Alma+Sexo tour on Wednesday at the HP Pavillon. ¡Que suerte la de nosotros!

I usually prepare to see a music event. When I say prepare, if it is a music concert or opera, I generally listen to the artist's songs one week before the date. If it is a ballet, I listen to the accompanying music tracts. Now if it is a Spanish or non-English and non-Tagalog speaking artist, I try to familiarize myself with the lyrics so I can sing with the crowd.

Ricky Martin in ConcertWith Ricky Martin's concert, I was totally not ready.  We learned about the free tickets four hours before the concert.  Before Wednesday, I've only heard three or four of his songs.  I was never a fan of the artist, although I like him enough that I would see his concert if the tickets were free.

The crowd was mostly Latin. The concert was short which is not surprising at all since he does not have a big repertoire of songs. He's got a great set wardrobes to complement his sexy body. I noticed that he really has a nice manly voice that is pleasing to listen to.  Another plus is that he dances while he sings, and he moves quite well. The man is a good dancer. I guess not a lot of male singers can do this except for a few like the late Michael Jackson, and several boy bands.

Ricky Martin in ConcertIn my opinion, he and his music sound better in Spanish and he should just stick with salsa or romantic music - porque las tienen mucha alma, mas profunda.

My favorites were Bella, Maria and the Cup of Life.  I went with mijo to the concert during a weeknight expecting nothing but came back home happy - nos hemos gustado mucho. This concert made me a fan of the man! Great job Ricky Martin!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley - Clos Du Val

Clos Du Val Winery
We went to a birthday dinner with mijo's family in Fairfield last week. Since we were in the area, we dropped by a couple of wineries in Napa Valley the next day before we headed back to the city.  We decided to pay Clos Du Val a visit. Our wine rack also needed replenishing with special wines meant as  treats to ourselves once a month.

Clos du Val is a winery that we have never been to but we think their wines are usually tasty. It is one of the many wine makers dotting the Silverado Trail in Napa. Another good thing about this winery is that it is not packed with bus loads of tourists like Beringer or Mondavi. As soon as you open the main door at Clos du Val, you will be greeted by a fragrant whiff with hints of cloves, plums and glazed fruits, the sound of wines being poured on glasses, and of course, the oohs and aahhs of wine enthusiasts.
[to read my other Wine Tasting blogs, click here ]

The tasting list usually features reserve wines that are not widely available commercially. We were keen on tasting their selection of reds for our once-a-month-wine. They had a pinot noir, a merlot, a blend of three red wines and a cabernet sauvignon.

Wine Tasting at Clos Du Val
The one that stood out from the samples is the 2006 reserve cabernet sauvignon. It smelled with a hint of prunes, coffee and plum. The balance of tannins, fruit, and alcohol is good. It was delicious! I thought this is something that can be drank even without a food pairing. Mijo and mijo's sister Claudia thought so too.

While we were taking our turns sipping and tasting each wine, I was multitasking flipping through the wine list to check the prices. This is a habit of mine that mijo is not fond of. He would roll his eyes everytime he catches me doing it, though he is pleased every time I save him $$$ when shopping. 

The price is reasonable so it was an easy decision to purchase a couple of bottles. It would have been a better wine tasting experience had they waived the tasting fee with our purchase, but they didn't.

Here are my notes:
Tasting Date: May 1, 2011.
Tasting Partner: Mijo and Claudia
Wine Name: Clos Du Val Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Producer: Clos Du Val
Region/Appelation: Napa Valley, California
Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage: 2006
Alcohol: 13%
Color Hue: red, purple
Aroma Intensity: aromatic
Developments: youthful
Aromas: plum, glazed fruits, pistachios, coffee
Dry/Sweet: medium dry
Body: Medium
Acidity: Smooth
Tannins: medium level, soft
Flavors: plum, glazed fruits, nuts, coffee

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

French Soul Food in the City - Brenda's

Desserts @ Brenda'sBrenda's French Soul Food is in San Francisco's Tenderloin district.  When you get inside the restaurant to give you name to the hostess, you'll immediately notice the unfinished wall on the right.  And then your eyes will be led to a focal point which is the ornate plaster ceiling. It is beautiful.

The line was long, but thanks to the Frenchman and Lewis, we were able to get a table on a short wait.

DDinner @ Brenda'sWe brought our own bottles of petite syrah. Lewis ordered the cheddar grits with sautéed shrimp and spicy tomato-bacon gravy. The Frenchman decided on the fry basket consisting of cornmeal-fried shrimp, oysters, catfish, hushpuppies, fries, cole slaw, chipotle rémoulade, and watermelon pickles. The Salvadoran sampled the chicken, Andouille Sausage Gumbo while I ordered the red beans and andouille sausage. They were all delicious! Brenda, the owner, even sent out some fried chicken for us to try and they were finger-lickin-good.

That's not all. She even served us a pudding and some baked yams to sample yet again. Everything was delicious! No wonder this place is always packed. Thank you Brenda!