If you like cassis, vanilla, cocoa, and cinnamon in your bordeaux blend, this is a wine for you; Columbia Crest produces a variety of wines across multiple price points and their reserve wines are usually high quality products at a reasonable price (the bottles are pretty too). The Walter Clore Red Blend is no exception. Tonight, we had a New York Strip from Rineer Family Farms in Lancaster County, PA (they come to the Rittenhouse farmer’s market on Saturdays) which is the grass fed beef that provides both omega 3′s and great flavor. This wine was a perfect compliment and for less than $30, I should have bought a case of it. Columbia Crest reminds me that great wine is available for less than $30; if you paid $65 for this in a restaurant, you’d still be happy with it and would tell all your friends – it’s that good.
The wife and I went to Bar Ferdinand for dinner last night (1030 N. 2nd Street) and embarrassingly, it was our first visit to the NoLibs hot spot. This was also my first visit to the piazza at schmidts as well and I’ll surely go back.
The food at Bar Ferdinand is tapas, and one of my favorite ways to eat because you don’t have to decide on just one thing, sharing is encouraged, and it becomes more of an experience than just a meal. We started with the red sangria which was light and fruity without too much fruit to chew while you drink (that’s a good thing). The tuna ceviche was fresh with crisp citrus, a hint of smokiness and a nice balance with the daikon it was sitting on. The chicken empanada was huge, like a tennis ball inside a pastry filled with moist, spiced chicken and the sauce was smooth and flavorful. Short ribs were braised to pull-apart-with-ease perfection and a larger portion could be a perfect winter dish (cabernet anyone?). The chicken breast a la plancha was incredibly moist and the brown butter sauce made it even better. Lastly, the duck confit was outstanding and flavorful not to mention the side of chopped ham and potatoes to ratchet up the fat content for the meal. All of the portions were generous, especially for tapas.
We finished off our dinner with their homemade churros that were served with a chocolate dipping sauce. We don’t get dessert as much as we used to, but this one was worth it. The bottom line on Bar Ferdinand is that in my mind, it’s better than Amada at a much lower ticket price. I’m already plotting my return visit.
If you’re in the Rittenhouse vicinity on a Saturday in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, make sure to stop by the square as there are some great vendors (meats, cheese, fruit, mushrooms, etc.). They are all wonderful, but if you can only pick one or have a hankering for great Tomatoes, visit the guy selling tomatoes there and pick your own from the many available. I also bought a tiny basil plant from him 2 weeks ago and it’s already doubled in size.
I usually serve the tomatoes sliced with a balsamic drizzle, a bit of fresh ground pink salt, and a little fresh ground pepper.
Just a basic homemade dish with some fresh basil from my ‘garden’. It’s not much of a garden, more of a rectangular pot with a basil and mint plant in it. But when you live in the city, it’s a garden. This is a basic, healthy dish that comes together in 30mins.
Directions: Heat up a large skillet/pan with a lid with some olive oil and take the pork tenderloin (about a pound) out of the frig and season all over with salt and pepper. Once the oil is nice and hot (and your exhaust fan is on), add the meat to the pan and brown on all sides, turning frequently. After each side is browned, turn the heat to med-low and cover for 20mins. After 20mins, the pork should be at about 150 degrees. Take it out and rest it on a plate.
Take about 3 tablespoons of brown/deli mustard and 2 tablespoons of dijon and about a half cup of lowfat sour cream and add it to the pan. If you have it, you can also add 3 leaves of fresh chopped basil (I had it in the ‘garden’) as well. Do not boil the sauce, but stir to combine. Slice the pork and add it back to the pan to coat each piece in the sauce mixture…enjoy!
I was all over the country last week with time in the Bay area (SF) and in Ft Worth, TX as well. We stayed in San Mateo, CA and found the spot for authentic japanese bento box lunches at Hotaru (33 E. 3rd Ave. San Mateo, CA). We shared a uni topped sushi roll which I can’t remember the name of, but it had a fresh-from-the-sea taste and for $8 is a bargain. The uni by itself would usually cost at least that. The bento box / combo meals are wonderful and a great bargain as well. For about $11, you get 2 pieces of sushi, 3 pieces of a roll, 2 different grilled meats (chix terayaki, mackrel in my case), soup, salad, and a variety of uber-fresh tempura. Everything was perfectly prepared and the green tea flowed throughout the meal. The only problem with finding places like this is that you don’t try the other ones nearby!
You’d think that with a label and name like ‘reserve’ that this might be an expensive wine. That’s not the case. In fact, this enjoyable Riesling is a whopping $8 and is a very easy drinking warm weather wine. My mom came over today and the wife and I treated her to a home-grilled dinner and since my mom leans towards the sweeter, less-dry side of the wine spectrum, Riesling is right up her alley. This Hayman & Hill is a good value wine and has the up front sweetness and sugar that comes with this type of Riesling. I found it peachy with minimal crispness. It worked well with our dinner and is great for folks who don’t enjoy the sau blanc style of white.
We visited Milat on our last Napa trip and found the owners to be charming, informative, educational…and also folks who take their winemaking seriously. Their tasting room on rt. 29 is next door to Corison and you’ll often meet the actual owners who have been making wine there for years. We learned all about the history of the valley while there in addition to tasting some great wine. We opened this Cab last night and that big Napa fruit is ever-present, but without the tannins on the back end. Think full cab up front and smooth oak on the finish. A real easy drinking Cab that can easily stand on its own and a great (napa) value for $36. There aren’t many Napa Valley Cabs that are all valley fruit for less than $50 at this quality level.
I went to the Grapevine location of Bob’s while in Fort Worth this past week and enjoyed dinner with a local resident who suggested this spot for a great steak. Wow, was he right!
Sure, this has the atmosphere of many large chains, but the quality, in my opinion is better. I generally don’t order a filet in most steakhouses because I want a prime steak and generally, the filets are choice grade due to the lack of marbling present in the steak. This is not so at Bob’s as all their steak is prime and this afforded me one of the juiciest, buttery filets I’ve ever had. The Caesar salad was creamy too, the baked potato (loaded of course with fresh bacon, scallions, and sour cream) was delicious, and the side of creamed corn had me screaming for a dose of lipitor after just one bite…but I enjoyed a few more just in case. Back the the filet, I went for the 12oz selection as the 9oz just didn’t seem right for Texas. It had a perfect sear on it and I’m a medium-rare kind of guy and this was perfect: warm red center with amazing full flavor throughout. Their wine list also presented many reasonable choices which helped wash the steak down too.
Enjoyed this GunBun Cab after the Trefethen at Bob’s Chop House. This is a departure from the big Napa Cab (Trefethen) as it presents a more refined, crisp flavor profile. Still has the California fruit, but I found this and many other Sonoma Cabs to still have the berry fruit with a more tannic/acidic finish. This is a food-wine, not a standalone in my book, but enjoyable nonetheless. A bit more marked up at this restaurant too as the bottle is $40, but listed on the menu at $85.